“Graham summed it up so well. He said if you leave the washing up for a bit, you start dreading it… and if you leave it for a few days, you don’t want to do it at all”, quotes Alex James on the yo-yoing mechanics of Blur in the Sam Wrench-directed documentary, Blur: New World Towers.
In 2009, the four-person bubble of Blur began to leak in discomfort, oozing in self loathing only to eventually burst. The lad-like chants of the 90s was now sunk in a puddle of isolation amongst Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree and an institution that was so cherished and overprotected had well and truly burnt itself out.
Three years later and with side projects, disputes and dairy products aside, the time had come for Blur to remind the world, but more importantly themselves, that they could still be relevant without a nostalgic backdrop. Playing to Hyde Park in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Blur resonated, pure and unforced, in probably the most pivotal moment in their existence.
From that point, Blur began to globally tour on a whim as what Damon Albarn describes in the film as “a fully functioning unit again”. Whilst in Hong Kong, in the wake of a cancelled gig, the band wandered into a recording studio and in five days accidentally made their newest album, ‘The Magic Whip’. Through intimate filming in its purest form, the film boasts their record as a refreshing, intriguing and likeable piece of music which escapes the banality of mass production.
However, cut down to the wire, Wrench’s piece is a film that reevaluates the unbreakably breakable relationship between Albarn and Graham Coxon. Whilst the documentary spins around the neon axis of Hong Kong - a valued but accidental metaphor explored throughout ‘The Magic Whip’ - the film touches on the band’s togetherness and its vulnerability.
Despite these factors - which resonate well at beginning of the film - the piece from therein wears a little flimsy and diluted. Lengthy segments of whole songs performed to packed out stadiums remind us of nothing new: Blur are bloody great with ageless, contextual and universal anthems. The film gives us a kind of ‘This is what Blur are doing now and they don’t know what they’ll be doing next’ aura without offering a huge amount else from middle to end.
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