It’s not quite the “End of a Century,” but it is the end of a long 12-year wait for Blur fans. The legendary Britpoppers announced Thursday that they will be releasing their first album since 2003 on April 28th. The Magic Whip is Blur’s first full-length studio effort since Think Tank, and their first as a foursome since 1999’s 13. Guitarist Graham Coxon left the group early in the Think Tank recording sessions, but the band got back together in 2008. And despite a myriad of one-off live performances and two new songs, they never stopped getting questions about the next Blur album.
The time finally came in 2013 when a concert cancelation during a tour in Asia gave the band an unexpected break in Hong Kong. They hit the studio and spent five days recording new music. Frontman Damon Albarn told (soon-to-be-ex) BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe they didn’t have much in terms of equipment, so it felt a lot like recording in the early days.
The sessions created a lot of excitement. But as the band explained during its live-streamed Facebook chat with Lowe, they eventually went their separate ways and put the new album on the back burner. That is, until Coxon decided he needed to get back to work this past November.
“Other people were making music and getting on the radio,” he explained, “and I hate sitting there not doing much when other people are making music and being told they’re great. I thought it would be great to go back – now that it’s fermented a while – and have a look. For want of a better word, there was some jamming; there was some sonic landscaping. I liken it to someone’s notes and we needed someone to organize them.”
Coxon teamed up with producer Stephen Street, who previously worked with Blur on 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish, 1994’s Parklife and 1997’s Blur. They sorted through the “notes” and then brought the music to Albarn, who wrote lyrics to the songs that eventually came together to form The Magic Whip. And while the process might seem a little unconventional, Albarn said it was “really accidental.” “It was completely natural and spontaneous,” he added.
The band says it also helped that they managed to keep the album relatively secret. They never had to deal with the pressure of writing a big comeback Blur single. Of course, The Magic Whip does have a lead single, called “Go Out,” which is available to download now. Fans can also pre-order the new album via iTunes, Amazon or the official Blur store at Blur.co.uk.
And fans in the U.S. might want to do that sooner rather than later. Right now Blur only has one live gig scheduled (London’s British Summer Time Hyde Park festival on June 20th), and they said a stateside outing is still a “maybe.” Albarn slyly explained that it “depends on whether anyone is interested.” He added that there are “very simple traditional ways” that U.S. fans could let the band know they’re interested – you know, like buying the album.