Top 10 albums of 2004 #2
#2 Think Tank... Blur.
This CD came out sometime in mid-2003, but it got lost in the shuffle. I didn't discover it until January and this is from one of my favorite bands. Think Tank is certainly the most difficult CD on my list. It takes several listens to get through the experimental layers and instrumentation. Pop albums usually don't employ Moroccan musicians or bedspring percussion. This is also the worst reviewed pick on my list and the one I figure the fewest of you have heard.
Hypnotic is the single word I'd use to describe Think Tank. The opening chant "I ain't got nothing to be scared of" from Ambulance signals lead singer Damon Albarn's m.o. As long as he has love and the ear of his listeners he's ready for the journey ahead. Formerly a quartet, Blur abruptly became a trio during recording Think Tank. Times of transition are often turbulent, I know. The result is a moody album that got me through a very moody period. The ballads Out Of Time (with it's exotic instrumentation and haunting chorus) & Sweet Song float in the brain pan. This is a headphone CD to be sure. Definitely my favorite melancholy late night listen.
Crazy Beat with it's Fatboy Slim production is son-of-Song 2 (you know, "woo-hoo!"), but more fun than it's predecessor. This is a great lost rock/dance track. I could've used a few more uptempo numbers on this album like it. The other Fatboy produced track is Gene By Gene with it's mattress and bicycle rhythm track. Inspired madness. The final track is Battery In Your Leg, which is beyond haunting, about how tiring performance can be and how addicted we become to it. The song is not mopey, just evocative.
To some, this CD probably feels indulgent. Albarn has already done experimental with his hip-hop side project Gorillaz; working with artists from Mali. Many of the tracks focus on mantra-like refrains and world beats. Why drag Blur into it? Without a lead guitarist and moving toward electronic music, this is a marvelously internal album with a lot of heart. To me Think Tank represents a group of mid-30s artists stretching to find inspiration in the 21st century world and presenting it on their terms. Blur may never be deemed as relevant or adventurous as U2 or Pink Floyd, but they have their charms and manage to keep things interesting.
Love, Power, Peace