According to Mojo4music, Blur, the iconic British band, has released their ninth album, titled “The Ballad Of Darren,” which showcases a mix of nostalgia and melancholy. The record exhibits a newfound maturity and emotional depth that may have been absent in some of their mid-’90s hits. Ahead of their successful two-night performances at Wembley Stadium, guitarist Graham Coxon sat down with MOJO’s Victoria Segal to discuss the album, the band’s reunion, their growth, and navigating three decades of friendship.
Coxon reveals that creating the songs for the album was a challenging process that required a lot of thought and experimentation. Each track needed to find its own identity, which took time and dedication. However, he mentions that the song “St Charles Square” was a turning point for him. The guitar-driven track, with its distinctive slapback echo, evoked memories of the iconic David Bowie album “Scary Monsters,” which resonated with Coxon immediately. The song also starts with a nod to their classic anthem “Parklife,” which ties into the album’s theme of reflecting on their career and friendships.
Throughout the album, Coxon revisits guitar sounds that have been dormant for some time, harking back to earlier Blur hits like “Peach” and “Bone Bag.” These sounds were instrumental in shaping the band’s identity as they transitioned from the baggy music scene of the early ’90s to a distinctive style of their own.
“The Ballad Of Darren” not only serves as a testament to Blur’s enduring friendship but also showcases their evolution as musicians and artists over the decades. The album marks a poignant chapter in the band’s journey, capturing the essence of their experiences and emotions as they embrace their middle years with newfound maturity and heart. Fans can expect a powerful and introspective collection of songs that pay homage to their past while forging ahead into the future.
I did feel a little bit awkward about doing live shows without anything new to play. But then Damon said, ‘Well, I have been making some demos on my travels’ and I thought, Yeah, an EP or something, something new to play when we go out and about – but then it seemed there was more and more. He was writing early in the year as well and that was added to the pile – songs he’d been writing while touring with Gorillaz. Then it was, ‘Well, it’s January now – when can we start recording, how can we finish this before these shows?’ It was quite a hurry. We called James [Ford, producer] and he was up for it, and we just got in the studio as soon as we could.
They were all, for me, very hard. They took a lot of thinking and a lot of playing – an awful lot. Just to find my place and carve out the identity of the songs. But St Charles Square – that’s a bit of a stomper. When I got that one going – this weird tune on the guitar, the slapback echo, maybe I thought about Scary Monsters a little bit – that seemed to work immediately. It kind of starts with a bit of a Parklife ‘Oi!’, doesn’t it? Because the record does look back over our career and our friendships, I did try to tackle some guitar sounds that I haven’t really looked at for a long time. Especially Goodbye Albert – that I would relate back to songs like Peach and Bone Bag [1993’s For Tomorrow B-sides] that I think are some of Blur’s finest moments, when we were finding our way out of baggy to a place we felt was our own.