‘Modern Life Is Rubbish ‘ is 30!

“We’ve done it”, proclaimed Damon Albarn on one of his many Select magazine covers in 1991. “We’ve killed baggy!” He’d always been a little too drunk on his own chutzpah, that lad. Still, he had a point.

While jeans just got bigger and flappier, and a nation of saucer -eyed kids were getting “mad fer it” to bouncy funk basslines and dance music, Blur had a new trick up their sleeve. They turned mod. Kinda.

I wasn’t convinced, I must admit. I was too cool for school, more Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Babes in Toyland and “horrible, disorientating racket” as John Peel called the music he played on his Radio 1 show.I thought Blur were cute, but more like music for my younger brother. I dismissively called Albarn Damien All-Bran.

But it has to be said, the second album, Modern Life is Rubbish, released thirty years ago today, has weathered well, far better than the follow-up, the still overrated Parklife. It’s an encapsulation of being young but feeling spectacularly underwhelmed with life in the UK in the early nineties, with one raised eyebrow.

The Kinks, The Jam and The Buzzcocks are in its DNA. Yet, it’s still Blur, thanks to Albarn and his lispy sarcasm. There’s clearly ambition in the song writing too. If you want a breezy wee singalong, there’s For Tomorrow and Chemical World, arguably the latter is one of their finest singles. But elsewhere, there’s a welcome caustic undercurrent. Miss America has a wonderful Syd Barrett wooziness. Oily Water is a Graham Coxon beaut. It definitely pointed towards a willing to experiment more, so there’s playfulness alongside dissonance and melody.

Thirty years later, and there’s war, strikes, an uncaring Tory government, unreliable police officers, accusations of press intrusion, strikes, poverty, more strikes… It’s as if the 90s never happened. No wonder the album’s still resonating with so many. Happy birthday Modern Life. Looking good.

Published by loreleiirvine

I'm a freelance arts monkey. Come see my brain vomit.

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