Blur: Damon Albarn (vocals, recorder, Hammond organ, harpsichord, melodica, keyboards, Moog synthesizer, vibraphone, programming); Alex James (vocals, bass); Graham Coxon (acoustic & electric guitars, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, background vocals); Stephen Street (keyboards, programming); David Rowntree (drums, percussion, programming).
Additional personnel: Phil Daniels, Laetitia Sadier (vocals); Louisa Fuller, Rick Koster, Mark Pharoah (violin); John Metcalfe (viola); Ivan McCready (cello); Chris Tombling, Audrey Riley, Leo Payne, Chris Pitsillides (strings); Simon Clarke (flute, alto & baritone saxophones); Stephen Hague (accordion); Tim Sanders (soprano & tenor saxophones, trombone); Roddy Lorimer (flugelhorn, trombone); Richard Edwards, Neil Sidwell (trombone).
Producers: Stephen Street, Stephen Hague, John Smith, Blur.
Recorded at Maison Rouge & Rak Studios, London, England from November 1993-January 1994.
After many decades of rock, there's an equation that still holds true--there are only twelve major chords to choose from. And if you listened to the British rock press, you'd think that they invented them.
Wedged in between retro and revisionist sits Blur. Wearing the hat of a Ray Davies-type sociologist, Blur's Damon Albarn weaves tales of modern London laced with the suspicion that, indeed, the empire HAS ended. Albarn's fascination with urban decay was apparent on MODERN LIFE IS RUBBISH, but with the followup PARKLIFE, Blur embraces the modern.
During the instrumentals, PARKLIFE plays like a surreal game show. Layering the aesthetic of the 1980s film BRAZIL with the Kinks' DAVID WATTS, Blur is quite possibly the new British hope. While Blur emerged from the same fertile, neo-glam soil as Suede (Albarn's girlfriend, Justine of Elastica, used to be Suede's rhythm guitarist), Blur is the king among the new British glams.
The disco rhythms and keyboards in "Girls & Boys" highlight Albarn's cutesy look at romance in the 1990s. A climate where everyone is "looking for girls who want boys who like/Boys to be girls who do/Boys like their girls who do/Girls like their boys." Laments Albarn, "Oh I should be someone you really love." If it's solid pop songs with a bite you're craving, you'll love PARKLIFE.
Rolling Stone (6/30/94, p.73) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...With one of the year's best albums, they realize their cheeky ambition: to reassert all the style and wit, boy bonding and stardom aspiration that originally made British rock so dazzling...this is explosive pop..."
Spin (8/94, p.87) - Highly Recommended - "...Blur cultivates that new wave look and sound, evoking the halcyon days of yore when London produced weekly pop sensations the way today's American college towns produce Superchunk clones..."
Q (10/01, p.85) - Ranked #15 in Q's "Best 50 Albums of Q's Lifetime"
Q (12/99, p.82) - Included in Q Magazine's "90 Best Albums Of The 1990s."
Q (6/00, p.76) - Ranked #22 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums" - "...Tempered by a wistful elegiac quality that brilliantly captured England's mixture of madness and mundanity. 'This Is a Low' is one of the most poignant songs ever onthe subject of The British isles."
Alternative Press (7/95, pp.94-95) - Rated #71 in AP's list of the `Top 99 Of '85-'95.'
Alternative Press (10/94, p.74) - "...taking MODERN LIFE's `For Tomorrow' to its logical retro conclusion, but making it all seem so shiny, spanking, sparkly new, that the next time there's a '60's revival, they'll have to ask Blur if it's ok with them first..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.56) - Ranked #72 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "Years ago, when albums were this magical they had titles like SOMETHING ELSE BY THE KINKS."
Mojo (Publisher) (1/95, p.51) - Included in Mojo's "25 Best Albums of 1994" - "...PARKLIFE shares its ragamuffin rambunctiousness with past masters like The Small Faces and The Kinks but has a contemporary sense of the surreal..."
NME (Magazine) (12/24/94, p.22) - Ranked #2 in NME's list of the `Top 50 Albums Of 1994.'