Think Tank Album reviews.
Release Date: 02.25.03
Record label: Mute
Stick Your Neck Out
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent
At the height of Britpop in 1995, the papers were full of the daily rows that took place between Blur and Oasis. It was the Stones versus the Beatles all over again, you either liked one band or the other. Both were brilliant, but both went off the boil at the end of the 90s and the turn of the century. Oasis made a couple of dud albums and Blur just didn't make any. But now, in 2003, both bands have emerged from their wilderness years, popping up again equally as brilliant and yet in vastly different places so that, musically at least, it is impossible to compare them.
Think Tank is Blur's seventh studio album and is more proof (should it be needed) that the band's horizons are infinite, that they are not hemmed in by any peer pressure or record label requirements. And guitarist Graham Coxon's departure does not seem to have hampered things at all. The opening track even makes a point of including no guitar as Damon Albarn sings "I Ain't got nothing to be scared of." Blur's eponymous album in 1997 abandoned their previous "poppy" feel and adopted heavy metal, while two years later 13 started sowing the experimental seeds. Think Tank is the often gorgeous yield that those seeds produced, at times blazing with guitars and soon after back to delicate instrumental sessions complete with Albarn's African influences.
Think Tank kicks off with the rather ambivalent "Ambulance", sounding a million times better when you try it with headphones. The lead-off single, "Out Of Time", is equally as lethargic, managing to grow on you after a while. But just wait till you hear forthcoming single "Crazy Beat", helped by Norman Cook, which is an explosive gem of samples, guitars, shouting and confidant vocals. "Crazy Beat" is the early high point of Think Tank, so make sure you readjust yourself for the more serene qualities of "Caravan" and "Good Song", the type of tracks that provide necessary padding for the louder ones. "Brothers and Sisters" gives an alternative insight to drug culture, Damon Albarn listing a string of medicines and illicit substances and what they're used for. And there is more rock-on-the-edge to be found in "We've Got A File On You", which combines the intensity of "Song 2" with the group shouting of "Lot 105", from Parklife.
Indeed, Albarn describes Think Tank as "our most direct set of songs since Parklife" and could not wait to try out his sonic experiments, using more towards the end of the CD. To compare Think Tank with Parklife would be unfair, the latter being far more radio and chart friendly and the former far mature. But, once more, this is Blur as you have never heard them before. The new feel of Think Tank will immerse fans and sink any rumours about Blur being a thing of the past. 28-Apr-2003 10:42 AM