Have I mentioned before that Damon Albarn possibly is my all-time favourite musician? Oh I have? Well let me say it again: he possibly is my favourite musician. The frontman of Blur and the Gorillaz has given my cold heart a lot to be excited again with a new album by The Good, the Bad and the Queen after their debut over 11 years ago in 2007. The superband has come with a new album called Merrie Land and it’s exquisite, if I may add.
Waiting this long for a new album can have different effects on your appreciation for the band. You can feel it in a negative way and cast your love aside, which I have done in the past with other artists. Or you can see it as a positive thing and appreciate that the individuals of this superband have other obligations and that it is amazing that they have recorded a second album.
I didn’t know what to expect from this album, as I felt that the first album really spoke about the political, societal and economic situations in Great Britain at the time. With Brexit and all, I felt that that might be too negative to talk about in this album. I was wrong. Very wrong.
Damon Albarn is constantly looking for the answer to the following question: What does it mean to be English and what is Englishness? In this Pitchfork review of the album they describe it perfectly:
For Albarn, it’s part of a lifelong investigation into the nature of Englishness, or what he has called “Anglo-Saxistentialist.” In a recent interview, he referred to Merrie Land as “the next installment of [Blur’s] Parklife.” If the world of Parklife was rendered in crisp, saturated colors, Merrie Land is drab and strewn with debris. Albarn guides us through its greying sites, pointing out ruins of English identity along the way. “If you are leaving/Please still say goodbye,” he sings atop lullaby organ in the title track; “Can you leave me my Silver Jubilee mug, my old flag?” These obsolete symbols are typical of the album’s tarnished menagerie—evocative, Albarn says, of a “nostalgic, sentimental vision of how England used to be,” even if it “never really existed.”
It’s hard to capture everything that is felt by the artists because I can’t really grasp what it feels like to be a young British or English individual. I’m not English or British, so I can’t. What I can feel, is the intense emotion of an uncertain future. Perhaps every adolescent feels that one way or another, but this is extreme. I think it’s really beautiful, yet profoundly sad that one can describe such feelings in music perfectly.
It feels like an anthem or soundtrack of what it feels like if you are English and you voted to remain. You feel the pain of leaving the EU, the dreading of the future and the insecurity that draws the possible outcome of the lives of so many. Where Blur has often referred to feelings of euphoria and happiness, this album reminds me of some of the melancholy that Gorillaz has. The sadness is beautiful and it’s a worthy second album by a band close to my heart.
Once again, Damon Albarn’s mucis has done it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and this band, but I’ve got to admit: there were tears.
Have you listened to this new album by The Good, The Bad and The Queen? Let me know!