13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2000
This is the album that laid the ground for the britpop boom that allowed bands such as Pulp, Oasis (and of course, Blur) to be at the top of the charts during the mid 90's. This album shows that Blur have an ability to mix art-rock with mod-rock - creating a nostagic, almost romantic picture of London, and life in the early part of the 90's. More importantly, this is the blueprint for an era (from 'new lad' to 'cool britania') - and although rarely mentioned in 'the best of all time' charts, it's significance can not be denied.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2011
It's true. It is soooooo true. Modern life really is rubbish. It was so much better back in the 90's; particularly in 1993 when Blur released their second album "Modern Life Is Rubbish." My interest in this album began when I saw the video for one of the songs in a episode of Beavis & Butthead. A little more on that later.
But we begin the album with FOR TOMORROW. From the sounds of things the song is about a guy vomiting at the fairground, and then going home to complain about how much he hates modern life. There's nothing about it that makes it super brilliant, but it's still a good song that's worth listening to regularly.
Next up is ADVERT. The only thing here to do with adverts is a guy at the beginning saying "Food Processors are great." The slight heavy-metal feel works really well for this track, and I quite like it. Number three in line is COLIN ZEAL, a song about a well organized man called Colin Zeal who's very punctual. The upbeat lyrics combined with the fast pace tune make this another worth listen.
The first bad track on the album is PRESSURE ON JULIAN. The guitar riff at the beginning makes you feel like you're stoned; and being stoned is never a good thing. The whole song feels like a great big mess, with one instrument trying to drown out the other. STAR SHAPED manages to put the album back on the right track with its strong drum beat and general all round positive feel. Things slow down a little bit with BLUE JEANS. The lyrics are quiet and there's a hint of church choir in the singing, at least in my opinion. This song seems best suited to night times, and something you should try listening to before getting some sleep after a hard day at work.
CHEMICAL WORLD. Now this is what I was talking about earlier. I saw the video for this song in an episode of Beavis & Butthead. The two dimwitted teens spent the entire video talking about taking a tinkle on stuff. But I heard just enough of the song in the background to like it and give this album a try. This is the best song on the album by a mile, although the so-called "intermission" that follows is best skipped. It's just piano gibberish which gets faster and faster and more ridiculous.
Up next is SUNDAY SUNDAY, a day loathed so much they named it twice. It's a short track, which is just as well because it lacks the spark of the earlier tracks, plain and simple. OILY WATER isn't too bad, but the nonsensical echoed lyrics make its 4:59 length a bit of a drag. No matter how much of a music fan you are, and no matter how much music you actually listen to, it'll be many a year before you hear a tune as depressing as MISS AMERICA. It's slow, it's sluggish, and it makes you wanna fill yourself full of lead.
After a few bad songs we finally get something good again with VILLA ROSIE. The start of the song sounds a car engine starting up, and the rest of it? Very nice. COPING is bright, quick, and well worth listening to on a regular basis. The upbeated-ness continues with TURN IT UP. There's not much in the way of lyrics, but it's got a very positive 90's vibe in the guitars and drums that make it the second best song on this album behind CHEMICAL WORLD.
We finish off with RESIGNED, which is something of a mixed bag. The high points are the drum beat and general pace of the song. The down points are the depressing sounding lyrics, and the "commercial break" that follows is like the "intermission." Just gibberish. RESIGNED is worth listening to every now and then, but the "commerical break" should be avoided at all costs.
"Modern Life Is Rubbish" as a whole is very good, and it actually reminds me of some of the brilliant TV shows that were on in the year of its release: Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog, The Crystal Maze, The Big Breakfast, GamesMaster, plus many others. The album is slightly let down by similar sounding songs. FOR TOMORROW and STAR SHAPED sound similar to one another, as do ADVERT and COLIN ZEAL. But the songs that do sound different make this album worth the purchase.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2006
Reaching my adolescence in the mid-1990's, "Britpop" was obviously going to play a large part in my musical upbringing, with bands like The Auteurs, Pulp, The Divine Comedy and Blur providing the natural soundtrack for five years worth of traumatic secondary school existence, first love, lonesome nights, sexual frustration, and the all-too brief release of the weekend ahead. In hindsight, the era certainly wasn't all it's cracked up to be, with only five or six great bands to make up for a whole heap of derivative fluff. For every Blur and Oasis you had a Menswear or Gene, whilst for every Luke Haines or Jarvis Cocker, you had people like Rick Witter and Steve Cradock (who?). Blur where the band that I gravitated to first; discovering them around the time they released Parklife, but only really becoming hooked with their hugely popular fourth LP, The Great Escape.
Discovering the joys of Modern Life is Rubbish following those albums cemented my fondness for the band, which still continues (to some extent) to this day. Listening to the album again just a few minutes ago, it's amazing how fresh the songs still sound. As a result, it's perhaps a good thing that 'Modern Life...' never achieved the same kind of chart success as later albums like Parklife and The Great Escape, with the songs here still managing to sound new and invigorating; while later tracks, like Girls and Boys, Parklife, Country House and Stereotypes have become somewhat stale (the same can be said about the tracks on Morning Glory or Pulp's Different Class).
This album saw Blur moving away from the Madchester/Shoegazer influences of that flawed debut Leisure, to embrace 60's pop, 80's new-wave and American grunge; creating a nice little parallel to the genre defining debut album by The Auteurs (New Wave, released 1993), which really established the template of acoustic rhythm guitars backed by an electric lead, a competent rhythm section and embellishments of strings, horns and piano. The influences here take in everything from The Beatles, The Kinks, The Bee Gees (early stuff), The Small Faces, XTC, The House of Love, The Smiths, Syd Barrett, Nirvana, The Beach Boys, The United States of America, The Pretty Things, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope and The Sugacubes, though individual listeners will probably find more than that lurking beneath the eclectic sonic veneer. The story goes that the band had originally wanted Andy Partridge of XTC to produce the album - which would have made sense, what with 'Modern Life...' fitting nicely alongside albums like Black Sea and English Settlement - though the record company would eventually go for the more "of-the-moment" Stephen Street (who produced the last few Smiths albums, as well as the first few by Morrissey), which again, makes a certain kind of sense given the style of the music here.
Some of the songs are fast, brash, agitated rockers, whilst others are slower, more down-tempo affairs backed by piano and mild-orchestration. As with most Blur albums, the stylistic diversity could be seen as being indicative of the future solo or collaborative works of the principle band members, with singer Damon Albarn favouring 60's and 70's influences pop, with catchy choruses and danceable hooks, guitarist Graham Coxon going for the more stripped-down stuff that points towards acts like Syd Barrett or the American indie-rock of Pavement and Sonic Youth, and bassist Alex James brining the sense of colour and humour that would be even more up-front in his collaborations with Fat Les and Betty Boo. Dave Rowntree's drums keep the disparate influences together, creating a neat and unique fusion between the harder songs and the softer ones.
The songs here will probably be less familiar than those on the subsequent albums (or even the singles from Leisure, all of which did fairly well), though it goes without saying that the opening track, For Tomorrow, as well as tracks like Advert, Chemical World and Sunday Sunday were all prime standards for those of us who managed to see the band live during the mid-to-late 90's peak. I also think the album holds together better than the more celebrated Parklife, which was perhaps a little over-indulgent, whilst it also doesn't suffer from the over-stuffing of material that The Great Escape had (a lot of bands from this era used the compact disk to it's fullest, packing it with 60 minutes worth of material when 40 would have been enough... see Pulp's This is Hardcore for a prime example).
Modern Life is Rubbish is a fine pop album, filled with a great variety of iconic pop and rock songs and peppered with a clutch of interesting and intelligent musical arrangements. It doesn't suffer from the self-awareness of the more familiar Parklife, or the stale excess of the otherwise great The Great Escape, and instead, offers a wonderful sense of colour, variety and sound. Britpop might have been a vague and obnoxiously London-centric catch-all created by record company execs to lump together a bunch of would-be mods and rockers... but some of those albums still stand up!! Modern Life is Rubbish really stands shoulder to shoulder with fine albums like New Wave, Suede, At the Club, Promenade, Now I'm a Cowboy, Different Class and Six as an example of music that still works regardless of trends and labels. The first great Blur album, and perhaps their best?
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2001
First, this is Blur's best album. Second, this is one of the best albums anyone is likely to make. There isn't a weak track in sight (something Blur have been prone to in every album except Parklife), and a fair few of these tracks have definite single quality.
The real standouts here are "Chemical World", "Advert", "Coping", "Sunday, Sunday" and "Starshaped". That, however, doesn't mean to say that the rest isn't very good. In fact, all of the other tracks are great, they just can't quite match the standouts. Only "Miss America" isn't quite as good as the rest.
For the one and only time, Blur have managed to get a long album right. "The Great Escape" should have been 10 tracks long, "Blur" should have been 11 tracks, and "Parklife" suffered from a slightly samey feeling towards the end of its 16 tracks. However, the pace and style change throughout this album, ensuring that it never gets samey, and remains fresh. This album will never get tedious, and it marks the transition between the mainstream early 90's indie of "Leisure" and the commercial britpop success of "Parklife". Whilst some of the later singles sound better than some of the tracks on here, there has never been a better Blur album, and only Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs" is a better album in the 90's.
Simply put, this is Blur at their very best.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2009
If I could judge an album by it's sleeve cover, then I would say it's a brilliant album. Thankfully, it is just that. Very British album it is too. The lyrics centre around British lifestyle as such. It's not too poppy either - a good deal of it has great guitar work from Graham Coxon. Personally, I think it's their best album. I'm a huge Oasis fan, and at first, I didn't want to like it, but you have to love it. Excellent excellent album.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 1999
I can't beleive that I am the first person to review this album! it is perhaps the quintessential blur album that all fans should have. From the opening "For Tomorrow" with its "la la lalala la"'s to "Miss America" (one of the most beautiful songs)it is an album full of classics ,with the eception of turn it up(!)that i recomend you to buy now!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2013
'Modern Life Is Rubbish' is definitely one of my favourite Blur albums because there's just so much in it and it pretty much gets Blur's message across about their views on British culture in the 90s!
After 'Leisure', Blur completely reinvented themselves with an entirely new style which became Britpop, and this album without a doubt demonstrates what they could really do, as well as illustrating Damon Albarn's true talent in songwriting.
The stand-out tracks for me are unquestionably 'For Tomorrow', 'Advert', 'Colin Zeal', 'Sunday Sunday', 'Star Shaped' plus the hidden track 'Intermission' after 'Chemical World' which show how Blur always loved to experiment and come up with sometimes weird, yet brillant, short instrumentals, just to add the flavour to their albums.
Any not so good tracks? Personally, I feel that 'Pressure On Julian' is definitely one of the weaker tracks and 'Resigned' does go on a bit, but apart from those, the album does not really have any tracks that are not very good.
And of course, like most Blur albums, you may find it needs a few listens before you give it a verdict (like I found) but do keep listening to it because it has so much to give and really shows quality, detail and perfection.
'Modern Life Is Rubbish' is also a personal favourite to the band and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is just getting into Blur, or is an ultimate Blur fan!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2012
I was one of the bone-headed people who bought into the whole Blur vs Oasis thing, not during it's zenith in the heady days of mid-nineties Brit-pop. No I was too young for that (12) and wasn't too interested in music in the first place. My ignorance stemmed from archival interviews concerning both parties, and me being working class, sided with Oasis.
On mature reflection both are superb bands in their own right and in two contrasting styles. Whilst Oasis rely(d) on the well worn formula of just making plain old rock n roll to the highest degree, with punch the air anthems and unforgettable choruses (they did with subsequent albums certainly mix things up more), Blur tried something slightly different. Of course much like their peers they also have all of the above, (Country House, Girls And Boys, Parklife, Song 2 etc) but after listening to this, their 2nd album, I was immediately entralled by the sheer scope, depth and ambition of it.
We need look no further than the opening track "For Tomorrow", a near four and a half minute single which seemed outrageous at the time. I am aware that such singles already existed but they were usually consigned to well established bands possibly looking to experiment therefore making a risk justified. Blur's record company were NOT interested in facilitating Damon Alburn's "eccentricness". It's a riveting piece of work though, with beautifully integrated strings and intelligent use of higher octave backing vocals. The influence of The Kinks and Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd can also be easily heard within numerous tracks "Sunday Sunday", "Miss America" and "Star Shaped".
My personnal favorites next. "Advert" is so instantly likeable in it's punk simplicity that I almost ALWAYS want to skip the brilliant aforementioned opening track just to get to it. "Blue Jeans", "Villa Rosie", and "Oily Water" are all uniquely strong tracks, but "Chemical World" goes one better with it's extraordinary nail on the head quinntissential English instrumental lurking at it's tail-end.
Not so great tracks time....eh....there are none! Well ok some songs are definitely stronger than others, and if I was to mention a couple it would be "Pressure On Julian" and the melancholic closer "Resigned". That being said they only appear weak as the competition on this classic (yes classic, not instantly recognisable but classic) album is so fierce! It says in the liner notes that "Many hardcore fans consider this their best" and if "Parklife" is indeed considered their best, by critics and/or by fans, then I would have to agree with them as I own both albums and have given them both multiple playthroughs.
In summary, this would be a very worthy addition to anyones collection and with the sheer abundance of extras you get with it, it's definitely worth your coin.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2010
This is a little less over produced compared to later releases of Blur such as Parklife and Blur(Self titled) and which I like a lot and it seems that this album is in the shadows of yet again other future Blur releases. So why is this album not raved on about by fans is it because everyone is still talking about Parklife. I honestly think that this is my favorite Blur album before the hype and media got to them the real blur before everything hit the airwaves of popular radio stations around the country and Girls&Boys was on non-stop reply. I am not here to talk about there other albums i am writing about this magical journey of a album. Each song has more than than just the texture of Damon's vocals there is more heart and soul in this release I think the front of the album captures it perfectly. Cheaply produced and honest for some reason i get a vibe from this album that i can't really explain but i am gonna try my hardest. I prefer the song writing on this album with more different sounds created by the band. I would of loved to see them live at this stage in there career and here i view them as a more relaxed sort of alternative proper British band that digs in the hearts of the people like me. I think the product you will receiving if you purchase will totally change you opinion on the band. Don't get me wrong i like all the other albums as much as the the next Blur fan but i like this one the most because as well as most of the songs being totally pure gold it is a nice themed album to listen to over and over again so why not do it. I like the the drums there more in your face and more heavy as well as the bass lines which keep the band in order and make them function honest pure genius lyrics and songs overall.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2001
Often seen as a 'transition album' between the juvenalia of Leisure and the fully fledged masterpiece that is Parklife, Modern Life is Rubbish deserves to be heard on its own as an excellent record, but is also fascinating when viewed in the context of Blur's musical development. Modern Life is Rubbish is truly the album where Blur and Damon Albarn found their poetic and musical voice. That is to say, the sort of tired, sad, resigned lo-fi ballads to which they would return on all their subsequent albums (Best Days, He Thought of Cars, Strange News from Another Star), but which they explored most deeply and compellingly on this record. The key songs, therefore, are the likes of For Tomorrow, Chemical World and Blue Jeans. All three manage to be heartbreakingly beautiful and tragic, while not being either fragile or sentimental. The prevailing mood is of resigned melancholy, summed up on Miss America (ironically one of the weakest tracks on the album) by the lines: "I don't mind. I don't mind at all / I love only you".
The slow songs dovetail nicely with familiar Blur thrash on Advert, Villa Rosie and Turn it up. Honourable mentions also go to Sunday Sunday and the instrumental Intermission. In fact the only thing which keeps Modern Life is Rubbish from a five star review is the horrible Colin Zeal.
Given its bleak title and content, Modern Life is Rubbish perhaps bears comparison to those modern doom mongers Radiohead, but ulike the perennially gloomy Bends, this album is an oddly uplifting listening experience, thanks to the wry humour and sweet sadness which ultimatly is the hallmark of Modern Life is Rubbish.