So why is Blur’s Leisure on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
After college, I lived and worked in England for about six months. It was the late ‘90s, during an era when Blur and Oasis were both arguably at their respective peaks of popularity*.
* It’s possible that my take on this point is altered by the fact that I was living in the home country of these two bands at the time. As a side note, when I returned home to the United States, a British pop group by the name of the Spice Girls was all the rage stateside.
For better or worse, Blur and Oasis will always be linked together as part of the Britpop wave and two of the most popular British rock bands to emerge out of the 1990s. Oasis was easily the more accessible band for me at the time, and their sneering-sounding, Beatles worship-y songs seem to meld perfectly with the divey pubs I frequented in Kent outside of London during that era.
While Blur released their self-titled album while I was still in the UK, I only really checked it out after I returned to the U.S., and that’s when something clicked for me about the band for the first time. The more aggressive, alt rock-ier version of Blur really knocked me out, and that album remains one of my absolute favorites.
It took me many years to fully explore Blur’s music, and it’s really only been the last decade or so that I’ve become a big fan of the band’s overall output. But I can say that these days I’m a huge Blur fan. While I still enjoy and admire Oasis’ first two albums, I’d be really hard pressed to answer the age old question of, “Who are you a bigger fan of – Oasis or Blur?”
Which brings us to Leisure, Blur’s debut album. As with the band as a whole, my appreciation for the album grew slowly over time, but every time I listen to it I admire it all the more.
“There’s No Other Way” is my favorite song on Leisure. It’s got a catchy, easy, flowing alt rock sound that’s very early ‘90s in a great kind of way. Damon Albarn sounds fantastic, the band harmonizes for days, and Graham Coxon crafted a fabulous hook.
That’s my highly non-technical definition. Let’s go to Wikipedia in describing the band’s sound circa Leisure, which incorporates the sounds of “Madchester” and “shoegazing.”
Madchester was a musical and cultural scene that developed in the English city of Manchester in the late 1980s, closely associated with the indie dance scene.
Shoegaze is a subgenre of indie and alternative rock characterized by its ethereal mixture of obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and overwhelming volume.
If you listen to “Sing” out of context, it feels timeless. Then you think, “Oh yeah… it was featured in Trainspotting.” Now that we have our definitions straight, it leverages a very Velvet Underground-like piano riff with a shoegazing sound, creating an ethereal and slightly haunting vibe.
“Wear Me Down” maps shoedazing and Madchester against a slightly downbeat alt rock sound to really intriguing effect.
It presages “Death of a Party” in a way, one of my favorite songs on Blur.
Some stats & info about Blur – Leisure
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? British Bands, Britpop, Alternative Rock, Rock Music, Dance Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3 out of 5 stars
- When was Leisure released? 1991
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #609 out of 1,000
Blur’s Leisure on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Blur’s Leisure that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Every time I come here I’m not sure what to say. I know it should be easy but it never seems that way.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.