13 by Blur
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Unlike many English pop bands, Blur have always defied convention. When the neopsychedelic swagger of their debut single "There's No Other Way" caught on in 1991, the band shifted gears, adopting a playfully classic British rock sound reminiscent of the Kinks
. When that clicked two years later, Blur turned all slack and noisy, garnering their first real American hit with "Song 2." So, does 13
follow in the same tradition as their last disc
? Of course not. Subordinating melody for atmosphere, 13
is a diverse, subversive odyssey forsaking worn paths to explore roads less traveled, such as country-gospel ("Tender"), combustive glam ("Bugman"), and expansive space-dub ("Battle," "Trimm Trabb"). Lyrically, vocalist Damon Albarn is consumed with his breakup with Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann, but while the songs on 13
are often moody and melancholy, Blur are far too musically adventurous to ever resort to mere self-pity. --Jon Wiederhorn