It’s true, whatever motivation and subsequent productivity I experienced yesterday here in Corporate Hell has seemingly been washed away and replaced with more of an “I don’t give a shit” attitude. Maybe it’s the fact that I start my “vacation” tomorrow, or that I’m just overwhelmed with all the stuff I have yet to accomplish before I go, I don’t really know. I still have lots to do however and I have to get out of the current ‘office funk’ I’m in and get back to the business at hand – kicking ass. To this point, I’m listening to something which, I’m hoping, will provide with that desperately needed forward momentum today: the ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish‘ album by Britpop moguls Blur.
This is actually the second offering by the band, released in 1993 on Food Records. Although their debut album ‘Leisure‘ (1991) had been commercially successful, Blur faced a severe media backlash soon after its release, and fell out of public favor. After the group returned from an unsuccessful tour of the United States, poorly received live performances and the rising popularity of rival band Suede further diminished Blur’s status in the UK. Under threat of being dropped by their recording label, for their next album Blur underwent an image makeover championed by frontman Damon Albarn. The band incorporated influences from traditional British guitar pop groups such as the Kinks and the Small Faces, and the resulting sound was melodic and lushly produced, featuring brass, woodwind and backing vocalists. In short, it’s a much lusher, more fun listen than it’s predecessor.
The album achieved moderate chart success in the UK; the album peaked at #15, while the singles taken from the album charted in the Top 30. However, applauded by the music press, the album’s Anglocentric rhetoric rejuvenated the group’s fortunes after their post-Leisure slump and it is now regarded as one of the defining releases of the Britpop scene, and its chart-topping follow-ups — ‘Parklife‘ and ‘The Great Escape’ – which saw Blur emerge as one of Britain’s leading pop acts.
‘Modern Life Is Rubbish”s sound is highly-influenced by the traditional guitar pop of British bands such as the Kinks, the Jam, the Small Faces and the Who – all favorites of mine. I vividly remember the ‘Wow’ moment I had when I first played it in my dorm room the day – literally – it was released. The songs explore a number of styles — punk rock (‘Advert‘), neo-psychedelia (‘Chemical World‘ – a dance floor staple that year at ‘Phil’s Grandson’s Place’ in Waterloo, Ontario), and vaudeville music-hall (‘Sunday Sunday‘). My personal favorite, however, is – for some strange reason – ‘Oily Water‘. I don’t know why exactly, but it just appeals to my sense of the strange.
On another side-note, the album’s title derives from stenciled graffiti painted along Bayswater Road in London, created by an anarchist group and it was one the first landmark sights I made the serious effort to find in the first week arrived in London two years later. For Albarn, the phrase reflected the “rubbish” of the past that accumulated over time, stifling creativity. Albarn refers to the phrase as “the most significant comment on popular culture since ‘Anarchy in the UK'”. On another side-note, due to Blur’s disdain for America at the time, the album’s original working title was ‘Britain Versus America’. Nope. No hard feelings there!
Anyway, this album is definitely serving it’s purpose by picking up my spirits today and inspiring me to accomplish a bit more at my desk this morning than simply refilling my coffee mug. Mission accomplished.