Worn down by fame, Britpop, and each other, Blur re-emerged in 1997 a changed band. Opening shot “Beetlebum” married Damon Albarn’s Kinksy melodies to guitar work that owed as much to Stephen Malkmus as it did George Harrison. And so it went with Blur, which ditched Albarn’s cozy Anglicisms for more cryptic, autobiographical lyrics, hedged in Graham Coxon’s newfound love of the U.S. underground. “Song 2” and “Chinese Bombs” go furthest out, but the band’s knack for pop melodies always remains blissfully intact.

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