It’s a little odd that Blur decided to premiere their new single as a livestream on Twitter earlier today, but we bit anyways. After all, new Blur is new Blur, and this marked their first new material since “Fool’s Day,” a Record Store Day 2010 exclusive release. But these songs are for a much bigger stage than an indie record-store shelf. The Westminister Council picked Blur to close out the Olympics in London on August 12th, and these tracks were released to celebrate the upcoming gig.
The streams began with a montage of songs including “There’s No Other Way” and “Song 2” to the backdrop of concert footage, magazine covers and the British flag. The first song they debuted was the stirring piano-driven ballad “Under the Westway,” its plaintive piano strains ushering it in, with its words evoking the hustle and bustle of 21st century life underneath one of London’s main elevated arteries. While the song was melancholic, it also offered hope: Damon Albarn, who was in fine voice, offered via lyric, “Paradise’s not lost, it’s in you,” before he sang the pensive chorus, “Hallelujah, sing it out loud, sing it to you.”
“The Puritan” was a more rollicking number. Albarn provided acoustic guitar, while Alex James’ and Dave Rowntree’s driving rhythms buoyed the song’s anthemic “La La La” chorus before the quirky tune ended with a final flourish.
On July 30 the band will release Blur 21: The Box, which will span Blur’s seven studio albums along with previously unreleased material comprising 65 tracks, rarities, DVDs and a limited edition 7-inch vinyl. [Download “Under the Westway/”The Puritan via iTunes]