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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 February 2007
this album changed my life! when britpop kicked off, being in a cheshire school, oasis were the big band...so of course, i chose blur's parklife as the album i would champion! i wasnt really into music then, it was kinda the big thing at time, everyone was doing it! but when i wanted to hear more, i bought modern life is rubbish, and it all changed. no longer the easy chart music, but catchy songs that wouldnt get played on the radio. this introduced me to looking for other music that didnt get played often and helped me discover so much more music!

if you are thinking of getting a blur album, or a brip-pop era album, start here! im listening to it now, and i can still see images of sitting on a bus through france, while listening to this on my old casette walkman!

an album that changed my life.

A true brit pop record that doesnt sound cheesey or dated.

long live modern life!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 September 2013
Blur's second album 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' is my hands-down favourite out of everything that these four men ever done. It truly brought Britpop to the focus at the time, and spawned three singles: the indie anthem 'For Tomorrow' (not only my favourite Blur song, but in a short list of my all time favourites by any artist), 'Chemical World' and 'Sunday Sunday', none of which hit the heights of their later hits, but made a lot of people take notice of them.

I think that the front cover conveys the message that this is a great album (If I was to judge a book by it's cover then that's what I would think anyway) - and indeed it is. The title is appropriate as a lot of the songs give off the message that life in the modern world is well, 'rubbish', and at the same time manages to perfectly capture the sense of living in the city, creating an almost romantic and somewhat nostalgic picture of London at the same time. With strong of elements of The Beatles and The Kinks influencing throughout, it's the epitome of a British record.

For the most part, the tracks on the album are slow-paced and relaxing (the laid-back, atmospheric 'Blue Jeans' is particularly sublime) whilst the others, including the outstanding 'For Tomorrow', and fan favourite 'Sunday Sunday' are quirky and upbeat, the perfect tunes to sing-a-long and lift your mood. The rather funny thing is, the whole record sounds just as fresh and modern today, which is quite an achievement for an album released in 1993.

Please do yourself a favour, whilst this is an outstanding album, you should seriously consider buying the 2012 two disc Modern Life Is Rubbish edition to hear these songs in superb crystal clear remastered quality, and also to own the bonus disc which has 19 tracks, including all the B sides to the singles 'Popscene', 'For Tomorrow' and 'Chemical World', including a sweet cover of Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May', and the original 'Young and Lovely', a gem and still occasionally played live today. The packaging is also very neat, housed in a lift-off lid box with four artwork postcards and a booklet with never-seen-before photos and liner notes based on an interview with all the members of the band. It really is a superb, worthy re-issue of one of my all time favourite albums.
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on 16 February 2000
From 'For Tomorrow' onwards this is a masterpiece. This is Damon Inventing Brit-pop a year before everyone else realised that such a thing existed. It has touching beauty (eg. 'For Tomorrow' and 'Blue Jeans'), fantastic pop tunes (eg. 'Starshaped' and 'Chemical World') and electrical energy (eg. 'Advert' and 'Coping') that no band since has been able to better (except maybe blur themselves). The best album by the best band since The Smiths
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on 22 January 2004
Blur's Best Of features a great overview of their career. However, any blur fan that knows their salt would have realised that 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' is almost totally ignored. Which is a shame since in essence blur's second outing is their strongest and most complete album. To my mind it is one of the best second albums alongside Mansun's 'Six, and 'Leave Home' by the Ramones. What really makes the album is that it can be viewed as having no singles, and much like '13'; every song is so good that each could have been a single! It's all quality. The singles are very strong though! 'For Tomorrow' and 'Chemical World' are excellent examples of Damon's emerging vocal and musical talent coupling beautifully with Graham's restrained (and never flashy) guitar work.

'Parklife' contains most of the band's transition to pop figures. There's not a 'Girls and Boys' style song on the album. Instead it generally treads a line between catchy pop and distortion rock. Of the cuts my favourites are 'Blue Jeans', 'Villa Rosie', 'Advert', 'For Tomorrow', 'Chemical World' and 'Starshaped'. Also, 'Commercial Break' while slight and silly has some brilliant playing on it, particularly Graham's. In a sentence, Modern Life Is Rubbish showcases blur flexing their muscles, stepping away from the mainstream of Leisure and embracing their roots and influences. Superb. (That wasn't a sentence was it!)
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on 12 September 2017
On ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, I had decided this was a better album than their debut by the second track. There’s a slight change in style, and this album is the typical Blur sound that they did for many years. It's at a higher standard of quality and the production is a bit sharper. However, I don't think there's many memorable tracks on here though and given that it is 70 minutes long; it starts to drag.
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on 1 May 2009
After a decidedly average debut album, some not very successful subsequent singles and rather too much alcohol, Blur were told by their record label Food to get their act together or they would be dropped. On submitting the much-improved Modern Life Is Rubbish, they were still told to go back to the studio and add a couple of singles. One of these songs, the album's wonderful opener For Tomorrow, subsequently possibly saved their career. It's odd to consider that without it there may have been no Parklife, Song 2 or Gorillaz...

For Tomorrow is arguably the first Britpop song. Like many of the best songs on the MLIR LP, it is influenced by The Kinks though has enough modern keyboard sounds to not be merely derivative. Further highlights from the album include Blue Jeans with its lovely double-tracked melody, the XTC-like Colin Zeal and vaudeville Sunday Sunday.

Many of the other tracks on Modern Life Is Rubbish are also punk influenced and it's fair to say that the album loses its way a bit over its second half and isn't quite the fully realised article that the band managed with their next LP Parklife. Despite this, Modern Life is an excellent LP showing a band going very much in the right direction. Charmingly put together with instrumental intermissions and chords to the songs in the inlay booklet, it saved Blur's career and provided a strong hint of some of the riches to come.
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on 8 July 2006
I laugh at all the "top 100 British albums" polls that never even mention Blurs second triumphant comeback album Modern Life Is Rubbish. Its always Parklife or Blur that make it, pretty fine albums but not as complete as Modern Life Is Rubbish. At the time of recording this album Blur were basically hanging on to a record contract by the skin of their teeth, after descending into an alcohol fuelled self-destructive abyss after falling off the baggy bandwagon with a thump. Thankfully they pulled themselves together and went back to their influences, Ray Davies, Paul Weller, Syd Barrett, Morrisey and various other classic English songwriters and started creating this masterpiece.

The thing I like about this album is the feeling it gives you. As soon as you hear the opening chiming chords of For Tomorrow you can't help but feel misty eyed and in love with Englishness Blur paint into their songs. This is the album where Damon is at the top of his game lyric wise and Graham creates some of his most wonderful chord progressions and melodies. Blur may have produced poppier catchier hits after this album but nothing as pretty as this.

My favourite songs on here are 'Blue Jeans', a beautiful song about a pair of jeans bought on Portobello Road, 'Resigned' a slow song with a melancholy feel and 'Coping' a punky tune about... coping with modern life. An excellent album with few bad points (Colin Zeal!), and a couple of other songs that i recommend from this era of Blur are (if you can get hold of them) 'Popscene' and 'Young And Lovely'
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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.
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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?
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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.
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