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splendid > reviews > 6/4/2003
Blur
Blur
Think Tank
Virgin


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Ambulance"

Buy me now
Think Tank is destined to split Blur fans into two factions -- those in love with its wobbly, Damon Albarn-led musical meanderings and those who sorely miss the gritty influence of recently departed guitarist Graham Coxon. Indeed, the Coxon-less Blur is a less focused Blur, but Albarn, James and Rowntree can still pull moments of sterling derision from beneath the fog. "Ambulance"'s sultry sax stutter and drifting melodies are positively beautiful, while the pensive "Sweet Song" floats along on clouds of sparking atmospherics and a demure Albarn vocal.

Think Tank is an Albarn solo album in all but name. The chattering Afro-Cuban rhythms of "Brothers and Sisters" sounds as if they were plundered from the vaults of his Honest John's imprint, while the beatbox freak-out "Crazy Beat" closely mirrors his recent work with cartoon-superstars the Gorillaz. Still, trace elements of old-school Blur rear their heads throughout Think Tank. The gnarled yankophile tendencies of their eponymous outing are recalled in the flashpot riffs and poleaxed gamelan rhythms of "We've Got a File on You" and Coxon's sole contribution, the Mission of Burma-on-Quaaludes-y "Battery in Your Leg". You'll also detect signs of Parklife in "Crazy Beat" and "Caravan".

It was never a secret that Coxon played the harsh yin to Albarn's swooning yang, and Think Tank proves that, while one can make do without the other, the results won't be typical Blur. Depending on your definition of typical, that's either reason to celebrate or occasion to mourn the loss of another great British guitar band.



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