Blur's members are the decathletes of modern pop music: Master dabblers, they have never been the best or most representative band of any rock subgenre they have dipped in. Even the "Britpop" moniker invented by Blur to suit its own eclecticism was eventually co-opted by Oasis and a host of inferior bands.
Blur dazzles with the sheer range and quality of its talents, and the band's best albums ("Parklife," "Blur") combine the kick of anthemic one-offs such as "Parklife" or "Song 2" with moments of unexpected soulfulness, urgency and plain-old weirdness. And this latter trait is about all that "13" has in common with its predecessors.
Incontrovertibly Blur's best work, "13" is unsparingly and eloquently personal, and despite exceptionally (!) broad stylistic meandering, it is totally coherent. Finessed with the band's customary sense for detail, loose-limbed songs embrace pop, punk and Beatles-and-Bowie-esque rock (familiar), as well as gospel, blues, country and psychedelic rock influences, jazzy drums, dance beats and all manner of space-age technology.
Soulful, urgent, weird, yes; just all at once now.
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