on 21 April 2001
The moment that i heard "tender" on the radio i could not wait to hear the album. When I did finally hear it, i was not dissapointed. Following on from the inspirational "Blur", "13" is simply a perfect album. The singles released from it showed the public the many different sides of Damon Alburns song writing abilities. Every song is different from the one before, and William Orbits input is imeadetely obvious. The best song on the album has to be "Trimm Trabb", because I have never before heard such a wonderfully atmosheric song, the whole song has been "composed" exceptionally well, with many different instruments being used. There is not one song that does not tantalise and engulf your ears and mind. "Bugman" is amazing aswell, with Coxon shining in this mind blowing, pumping song. A top quality album.
on 13 March 2007
I've read a couple of reviews for this album and I felt it need some extra input. I've also noticed when people talk about the songs on the album they tend to talk about the singles or the guitar based songs. I dont think they're what this albums about. Dont overlook the albums finest, most experimental tracks. This is not an album for blur fans, this is an album for music fans. I'm certain a lot of people have no idea how good this album is. This is a dark album, an album whos greatest moments are born out of emotional pain. Listen to 1992 and Caramel and tell me there not amazing songs. Thats it...
on 20 March 2010
I remember I got this album back in 99, as a bright eyed and naive schoolboy of 14. "Tender" and "Coffee & TV" had just been released, and I loved (and still do) these, beautiful, emotional gems. So imagine my disappointment with 13. It was noisy, abstract and...weird. For a long while it lay dormant in my collection, as I got along with other transient piffle such as The Vines and The Cooper Temple Clause (remember? no)
Well, 11 years later and Blur are, thankfully, back with us and this album just might be their finest work. As brillinat as Blur have always been as a pop band, this is a million miles away from the likes of Parklife or Modern Life Is Rubbish. Even the eponymous album that preceeded this and offered the sensational likes of "Beetlebum" and "Song 2" is no match for the sheer daring experimentalism of this album. For a pop group, Blur always were an able bunch of musicians, but this album displays some truly outstanding work from the band as a unit and as individuals, paritucularly from the always innovative Graham Coxon. In a recent interview, Coxon stated that this was the point where he really felt he'd refined his skills as a guitarist, and the results here are at times breathtaking, creating the kind of dynamic noise that might make the likes of Mogwai or the Pumpkins sit up and take notice. But perhaps most impressive is Damon Albarn's at times woeful, at times enraged songcraft. He displays an emotional depth that was only ever hinted at in their earlier work, and there are moments where his vocals take on an angelic quality that is distinctive and powerful. "Trimm Trabb" is so visceral, so unsettlingly reflective ("all those losers on the piss again...that's just the way it is"), "Caramel" so hauntingly atmospheric and "No Distace Left to Run" so heartwrenchingly honest ("Its over, you don't have to tell me, I hope you're with someone that makes you feel safe in your sleep"), its hard to believe that this is in fact the same man who wrote about living in a big house in the country just a few years before.
Indeed, the sea-change in Blur's output that began with Beetlebum is easy to explain when
you follow their life story - quick, fast popular exposure spiralling into a mire of drugs, alcohol, personal animosity and heartbreak. But as emotive as 13 is, its not all doom and gloom, and in "Tender" it has given us a true, undisputably classic song. The overall feel of the album is an atmospheric, stoned-out groove, owed in part to lashings of electronics, sampled beats and the production techniques of William Orbit.
Its a shame that this was the album that broke the band and sent Coxon into rehab. The follow up was the lukewarm "Think Tank", sans Graham, that many cited as the beginning of the end for this once seminal band. But 2009 saw the miracle happen, and indeed many tracks from this outing were delighting audiences on their comeback tour alongside the likes of Girls & Boys, For Tomorrow and The Universal.
So, all in all, a fantasticlly mature piece of work, though not the classic Blur we all remember. I'm glad I kept my copy for a decade, and tentatively I wonder if the boys could offer us something new in the next along such lines....
After the excellent and experimental album that was 1997's self-titled 'Blur', Britpop's finest young men released '13' two years later, which continued with frontman Damon's increasing interest in different, interesting, and experimental music. Blur were progressing in a big way, and as much as I adore the earlier stuff, my favourite album being 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' forever, it is very refreshing to hear more moodier and atmospheric music from these men, as apposed to the quirky, upbeat pop music that they had already proven they could excel at. In fact, the only song here that sounds anything like the old Blur, is the catchy single 'Coffee & TV', one of three massive hits that '13' spawned.
Damon's song writing was probably at a peak here, which isn't surprising considering the very difficult periods he was experiencing in his own personal life. As a result of this, he was able to write some of his most beautiful, and deep songs. The aforementioned 'Coffee and TV' is about alcoholism, describing his own battles with the demon drink. One of the real highlights, the completely heart-breaking 'No Distance Left to Run', was written after Damon's breakup with his long-term girlfriend Justine Frischmann, the lead singer of the band Elastica. Another is the much more experimental 'Caramel', describing the struggle he had to get over the breakup. Damon might find these songs difficult to sing, but to us fans, they are just incredible to listen to. It's rather difficult to believe that this is the same man who had penned the infectious 'Girls and Boys' just a half a decade before.
Things started off on a slightly happier note, with the epic opening track 'Tender', which tells of a lover which Damon loves too much (and he undoubtedly also wrote this one about Frischmann), with it's catchy lyrics and beautiful gospel choir. This is a fan favourite, and it just missed the top spot in the UK singles charts. The full 7:41 minute version is here.
I have a soft spot for all of the Blur albums, they are after all my favourite pop band. However, '13' is one of my most played, with songs that genuinely still touch me after all these years. It's a shame that Damon had to experience such personal heartache in order to write these beauties, but fortunately for us, he was able to turn his heartache into truly excellent song writing. The end result was a moody, beautiful, and very personal album. I'll be forever a fan!
on 21 June 2000
After a fantastic 5th album blur found the sound that thay have been looking for for ten years. Opening the album with Tender just works so well i cant think of a better song to start a better album (and if you get the chance listion to the B side all we want it shows alex james at his best). The second song could not be more differnt their hardist song to date Bugman shows how they can play nearly evey tipe of music there is. Then Graham steps up to the lead vocals to do one of the best songs of the album Coffee and TV is proply the only song on 13 that goes back to their eariy days. 1992 is a song i would never of thought to be a blur song and swamp songs sounds like their is still a lot of laughts in Damon's life after the brack up with Justin. But the two songs i like the most are Trimm Trabb and mellow song because i think that this are two songs that show that they are not running out of ideas and will be around for a long, long time.
on 13 September 2005
The critics mauled it, Mogwai hated it so much that they printed a line of t-shirts that perfectly expressed their disgust, and the loyal fanbase seems to be completely divided. I have no idea why. This is quite possibly my favourite Blur album. Certainly their most accomplished. It has a fixed concept for one thing (Damon's messy breakup) and it's about as experimental as The White Album or Ok Computer. Whilst it doesn't really break any new ground sonically, it's one giant leap for Blur, and in a musical climate where regression seems to be awarded (Oasis, take a bow), one has to admire their efforts.
Like most great albums, every track stands out. However, there are three that hold that extra special place in my heart. Three that I reccommend to newbies as examples of the majesty of latter day Blur. First, the sinister punk metal thrash of Bugman that really pulls the rug from under your feet after the aptly named Tender. It's ferocious and unforgiving, making perfect use of the most stressful sounds imaginable. Quite possibly the best use of a vacuum cleaner in a song ever.
Then the sheer monolithic brilliance of Battle. Essentially, Blur trying their hand at trip hop, the sound brings to mind Portishead or DJ Shadow at their most insightful. With an ominous synth riff, crashing drums and beauitful melodic vocals, it's a gem from start to finish. Graham Coxon's guitar consumes the entire debacle in a glorious wall of sound before releasing the chaos, but by this time it's transformed into a fuzzy organ solo. Genius.
Finally, the frankly insane Caramel. It's weird, it's wonderful, it starts off sounding a lot like Animals era Pink Floyd. A cosmic prog oddyssey that breaks down under the strain of its own majesty. Then turns into a creepy Eraserhead organ suite. Then a car starts, then we're treated to an electroclash outro. I've said it before and I'll say it again...genius.
Whilst the dense experimental proggressive suites are thrilling and enduring, it's the bare minimum approach of No Distance Left To Run that breaks the most hearts. With nothing but a tragic distorted guitar and Damon crooning on the verge of tears that "It's over", the effect is devestating. Programmed last for a reason, it sticks in the head long after the CD's finished. But then, all of these songs do.
An underrated masterpiece, my favourite Blur album, the best album of 1999...I can't reccommend it enough. It's perfect.
on 5 December 1999
With the feeling that indie music has become more commercial than even R&B in recent years, and having as much stomach for previous Blur songs like Country House and Girls and Boys as a feast of live slugs, I was somewhat amazed by being told I was listening to that very same band when stoned and drifting away to Battle and Mellow Song.
Dispensing with the rather obvious Tender and Bugman that give the album an unfairly weak start, from Coffee and TV onwards, 13 embarks on a fantastic array of relaxed guitar melodies, waves of electronica and Damon Albarn's relaxingly mellow voice to create songs that smell vaguely of Radiohead and Alice in Chains influences but have a very strong identity of their own.
I'm withholding the fifth star mainly because of Tender and Bugman, obvious singles to try and lull in the teenyboppera dn mainstream markets, but 13 is certainly not a mainstream album, and well worth checking out.
on 29 April 2011
I love the rest of them but this is my favorite Blur album and one of my all time favorites. It's more downbeat, emotional and personal than their usual fare until then. Everyone will know Tender and Coffee and TV - these were 2 of Blurs finest releases in my opinion - but the real quality of this album is with the tracks that grow on you. Tracks like Battle, Mellow Song and Trimm Trabb are 3 of the best songs I have ever heard and the ones I keep coming back to! With these tracks it's very easy to spot the influence of one William Orbit - this is a match made in heaven - the quirkyness and playfulness of Blurs previous albums is complemented perfectly by Orbit's subtle magic. This album is experimental in many ways, musically, it's a complete U turn for Blur. The only shame is that it turned out to be a bit of a swansong until Think Tank (which came some 5 years later), I would have loved to see how they would have followed this up. This is genius.
on 15 March 2000
The boys from Essex return with a rather good art-rock album that has a less commercial appeal.
First track "Tender" is very much in the mould of Spiritulized whilst "Bugman" is a more heavier track that will please the "Song 2" lovers. With Graham Coxon singing on "Coffee & TV" it offers a bit more than Damon's vocals. Other tracks like "Trailer Park" and "Mellow Song" give a few acoustics interests whilst "Trimm Trabb" and "Swamp Song" (Nothing like Oasis') give a heavier option. Final sing "No distance left to run" shows Damons emnotions laid bare as does much of the album. "Caramel" is a good example of the arty-music Blur have moved to since the Britpop explosion.
All in all a great album that is underrated by the public.
Fully worth 5 stars.
on 9 July 2000
every time a new blur album comes out at least one of the songs puts into words the tone of my life at the time and every time the mood is different just like the albums and the songs and every time all of it just gets bigger and better and more isane
id like to say this is the best album ever but we all know there are going to be plenty more and their just going to be better and bigger and more insane so ill just say this is the best to date