In order to finish The Magic Whip, its first album in a dozen years, Blur had to revisit the past. This wasn't the distant past of 1994's Parklife or 1995's The Great Escape, cheeky Britpop triumphs that branded the London foursome as Gen X's answer to The Kinks; nor was it the more recent past of 2003's muted, muddled Think Tank, recorded amid the departure of guitarist Graham Coxon and released just before a five-year hiatus.
Instead, The Magic Whip meant returning to May 2013, when the cancellation of the Tokyo Rocks festival left a reunited Blur with five days to kill in Hong Kong. While there, the band jammed on wordless doodles that sat idle until fall 2014, when Coxon enlisted producer and frequent collaborator Stephen Street to help piece together songs. Globetrotting frontman Damon Albarn? then returned to Hong Kong to write lyrics, hoping to recapture the spirit.