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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 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!
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Modern Life Is Rubbish, but that word rubbish cannot be used when describing this excellent album from the Blur boys!Every track on this album is nothing but pure quality.The songs showcase many of Blur's influences and styles we have all come to know and love, ranging from feel good quirky pop,hard edged indie and a sprinkling of sounds of the mod persuasion.Modern Life Is Rubbish,acts almost as a prelude to what Blur were to become in the proceeding years of the Park Life and Great Escape era, nevertheless this album never loses its alternative cutting edge feel.Even after an incredible eight years on fom when the album was released back in 1993, none of the songs sound dated or inferior when compared to what other guitar based bands are churning out today.One could say Damon and co have created a timeless indie classic, and I concur wholeheartedly with my fellow reviewers, Modern Life Is Rubbish goes a long way in exhibiting Blur at their brilliant best.Often overlooked by critics in favour of Parklife and some of Blur's later studio recordings, Modern Life Is Rubbish is essential listening if Blur is your poison, or if you just have the urge to listen to wonderfully crafted guitar driven indie music that has melody, passion and a bit of attitude thrown in for good measure, give this gem a spin and discover Blur's sentiments on modern life.
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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 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.
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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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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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on 24 July 2013
different to the the first shoe-gazey, art rock whirl of their debut, this album is the start of their trademark sound that we all know and love. Albarn rambles on about life in the city throughout the album and adopts a more observational style of lyrics, with characters being the themes of songs. Featuring very kinks-esque influences and catchy, sing-along choruses, even if the lyrics are just "la la la". Coxon's stabby, punchy and sometimes warm guitar riffs shine so bright on this album album that it could very well burn a hole straight through your CD player. Its Parklife's more timid sibling but is just as punchy. This album is Alex James's favourite Blur album and it could very well be yours.

9/10

Favourite songs: Advert, for tomorrow, coping, Sunday Sunday, Colin zeal
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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 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.
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