It is likely that the majority of Blur fans who purchased this album as soon as it was released were, like me, expecting more of the fun, catchy tunes that featured on Parklife and The Great Escape. However, what we got was something entirely different. This album on first listen seems to feature a much darker sound, which was hinted at in the later tracks of The Great Escape. But to simply label this sound 'dark' is not to do it credit. The more you listen to the album, the less dense and 'pretentious' (as it has been labelled) it will seem. Aside from Song 2, the majority of this album has an almost acoustic feel, and yet this seems to actually increase the impact of the songs: For, without a doubt, the standard of songwriting on this album is as high if not higher than it has ever been. Songs such as 'Country Sad Ballad Man' and the heart-renderingly beautiful 'On Your Own' highlight Damon Albarn's ability to write tracks that really stand up over time. This is the point of this album. On first listen it doesn't immediately impress. However, after a few listens, the quality becomes clearer and clearer. For me, this is Blur's finest album to date, because it manages to avoid all the 'brit-pop' and rock clichés which they used to good effect in their previous albums. If 'Song 2' is all you have heard of this album, you may be surprised when you hear the album for the first time, but it is well worth the effort of a few more listens instead of discarding it immediately. All in all, I would thoroughly recommend this album to any music lover, and although some might disagree with a rating of 5 stars, no album is perfect, and to give it 4 stars doesn't do this beaufiful record justice. Listen...and enjoy.