Album Review

Blur’s 'Parklife' at 20: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

Blur Parklife
Parlophone

Blur's Parklife album released in 1994 

Because Oasis wrote songs reminiscent of “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” they went over huge in America. Blur, their chief rivals in the Britpop wars of the mid-‘90s, were more like the Beatles in terms of inventiveness and musical ability, but they didn’t write universal anthems everyone could sing along to. Their finest album, 'Parklife,' is all about everyday London life, and when it hit shelves 20 years ago today, on April 25, 1994, America barely took notice.

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Perhaps Blur were “too British,” the same criticism hurled at the Kinks, the Jam, Madness, and a host of other terrific U.K. bands that were huge on their side of the pond but relative small fries—er, chips—here. Or maybe it was bad timing, as mastermind Damon Albarn and his nasally British voice proved plenty palatable in the decade that followed, as he achieved massive stateside success with Gorillaz.

But while 'Parklife' didn't necessarily move the American masses, it was a modest underground sensation -- the infectious lead single “Girls & Boys” went to no. 4 on the Alternative airplay chart, no. 59 on the Hot 100, no. 21 on Dance Club Songs and no. 40 on the Pop Songs chart. In 2012, the group reunited after several years away and headlined 2013's Coachella Festival.  Whether the band will record new music again is still anyone's guess. For what it's worth, Albarn indicated last July that he'd begin working on new Blur material once his solo album dropped, and that day as already arrived. 

But even if Blur never records again, 'Parklife' remains a masterpiece that continues to offer cheeky little surprises in its nooks and crannies.