Blur have announced details of a surprise new album The Ballad Of Darren and shared the first single “The Narcissist”. Check it out below.
Blur first announced their comeback back in November with news of a huge Wembley Stadium show – before going on to reveal a second date at the venue before a run of European festival shows and an intimate UK warm-up tour, which kicks off in their hometown of Colchester today (Friday May 19).
The band have revealed that the 10-track The Ballad Of Darren will arrive on 21 July via Parlophone, and is available for pre-order here. The band’s first album since 2015’s The Magic Whip comes previewed by the single “The Narcissist” – a moderately-paced bittersweet track reminiscent of the alt-rock leanings of 2003’s “Think Tank”.
The band’s ninth album was produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Depeche Mode) and recorded at Studio 13 in London and Devon. Speaking about the making of the record, the band said that it found them taking a stock of their relationship.
Frontman Damon Albarn described The Ballad Of Darren as “an aftershock record” loaded with “reflection and comment on where we find ourselves now”, while guitarist 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.”
Bassist Alex James, meanwhile, said that “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”, and drummer Dave Rowntree commented on how the band found that “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,” he added.
The artwork for the album features an image of Gourock lido in Renfrewshire by British photographer Martin Parr, with the story of the image featured in The Guardian in 2014.
“St Charles Square”
“The Everglades (For Leonard)”
“Far Away Island”
The news of the band’s return came after Albarn previously claimed to NME that the band had been in talks and “had an idea” of how to make their comeback, before Rowntree teased that live activity would be on the cards if all members were “up for it” and Coxon appeared to downplay the chances of a reunion.
Coxon, who recently released his autobiography Verse, Chorus, Monster!, also released the debut album with THE WAEVE, his side-project with former Pipettes member-turned-Mark Ronson collaborator and singer-songwriter Rose Elinor Dougall.
After releasing acclaimed solo album The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows in 2021, Albarn released Cracker Island with Gorillaz in February.
Rowntree, meanwhile, recently shared his debut solo album Radio Songs.
Check out Blur’s upcoming tour dates below, and visit here for tickets and more information.
Friday 19 – COLCHESTER, Arts Centre
Sunday 21 – EASTBOURNE, Winter Gardens
Friday 26 – WOLVERHAMPTON, Civic at the Halls
Sunday 28 – NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, O2 City Hall
Thursday 1 – PRIMAVERA SOUND, Barcelona
Thursday 8 – PRIMAVERA SOUND, Madrid
Saturday 10 – PRIMAVERA PORTO, Portgual
Saturday 24 – MALAHIDE, Malahide Castle & Gardens
Friday 30 – ROSKILDE, Denmark
Thursday – BEAUREGARD , France
Saturday 8 – LONDON, Wembley Stadium
Sunday 9 – LONDON, Wembley Stadium
Friday 14 – – VILLES CHARRUES, France
Saturday 22 – LUCCA, Lucca Summer Festival, Italy
Sunday 23 – VILLES CHARRUES, France
Tuesday 8 – OKERSE FESTEN, Belgium
Wednesday 9 2023 – ØYA Festival, Norway
Thursday 10-Saturday 12 – WAY OUT WEST Festival, Sweden