First track, ‘The Narcissist’: Listen here
blur will release their first album in eight years, titled “The Ballad of Darren” and comprising 10 new tracks, on July 21 on Parlophone. First track, “The Narcissist,” is out now, watch visualizer here.
Produced by James Ford and recorded at Studio 13, London and Devon, “The Ballad of Darren” is the band’s ninth studio album, their first since the chart-topping “The Magic Whip” in 2015, with artwork featuring an image by British photographer Martin Parr.
“The Ballad of Darren” track listing is: “The Ballad,” “St Charles Square,” “Barbaric,” “Russian Strings,” “The Everglades (For Leonard),” “The Narcissist,” “Goodbye Albert,” “Far Away Island,” “Avalon” and “The Heights.”
Damon Albarn, “This is an aftershock record, reflection and comment on where we find ourselves now.”
Graham Coxon said, “The older and madder we get, it becomes more essential that what we play is loaded with the right emotion and intention. Sometimes just a riff doesn’t do the job.”
Alex James said, “For any long-term relationship to last with any meaning, you have to be able to surprise each other somehow, and somehow we all continue to do that.”
Dave Rowntree said, “It always feels very natural to make music together. With every record we do, the process reveals something new, and we develop as a band. We don’t take that for granted.”
Today’s surprise announcement comes ahead of the band’s return to the place where it all began – Colchester, Essex*– for their first ever performance at local landmark Colchester Arts Centre tomorrow, marking the start of a short run of warm-up performances which will see blur visit Eastbourne Winter Gardens on May 21, The Halls Wolverhampton on May 26, and O2 City Hall Newcastle on May 28.
These warm-up dates are kicking off a summer of highly anticipated live shows, which will bring Alex James, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Dave Rowntree together again to perform their iconic and much-loved songs across Europe over the coming months. The band’s first ever show at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday, July 8, sold out in minutes – with a second Wembley Stadium show added for Sunday, July 9.
“The Ballad of Darren” will be available as a digital download and stream (10 tracks as above); standard CD (10 tracks) and deluxe CD (12 tracks, with expanded packaging), standard vinyl LP – 12-inch heavyweight black vinyl; and – exclusive to blur.co.uk – deluxe vinyl pressed on 12-inch clear vinyl with black swirls, in a gatefold sleeve, with poster, bonus 7-inch vinyl, album CD (12 tracks) and integrated booklet, including exclusive handwritten notes, sketches and lyrics; and cassette (10 tracks).
Preorder “The Ballad of Darren” here.
More About blur
Since announcing their arrival with debut album “Leisure” in 1991, blur went on to revolutionize the sound of English popular music with six successive U.K. No. 1 albums: “Parklife” (1994), “The Great Escape” (1995), “Blur” (1997), “13” (1999), “Think Tank” (2003) and “The Magic Whip” (2015), and a string of Top 10 singles, including two No. 1s with “Country House” and “Beetlebum,” helping to propel the band to mass popularity at home and abroad. One of the biggest British bands of the last three decades, blur have released eight studio albums and collected 10 NME Awards, six Q Awards, five BRIT Awards and an Ivor Novello Award, and played live to thousands of devoted fans across the globe.
*Colchester is the hometown of blur bandmembers Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon and drummer Dave Rowntree, with Damon and Graham first meeting as teenagers at Stanway School. Graham later introduced Dave to both Damon and bassist Alex James. The band’s debut album, “Leisure,” was released in 1991.