100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #15 Blur – Chemical World

Released : 1993

Nothing rouses the folk of this scepter’d isle more effectively than some us and them. After a disastrous US tour playing to apathetic grungers Damon Albarn toyed with the idea of calling Blur’s second album Britain Versus America and Lydon-esquely decried it’s proponents as hippies; wisely they chose Modern Life Is Rubbish instead.

To the blue touch paper of anger you could add jealousy, as at the same time rival up-and-comers Suede threatened to steal their momentum completely. However in looking backward, particularly using The Kinks and The Jam as references, the under pressure quartet located a near fictional, timeless England that was still post war but pre-millenium. Invoking red phone boxes, pound notes and four star petrol, Modern Life Is Rubbish was an inverse declaration of independence, a bulwark against the check shirted hordes and their mumbled sociopathy.

Not everyone got it. Food label boss Dave Balfe told Albarn it’s art-school, suburban clip was commercial suicide, after which the singer’s response was to give it some more chart legs via For Tomorrow and Chemical World. Character sketching as would become one of his familiar songwriting tropes and with more than a hint of the quiet-loud dynamic of (you know what) the latter gave us a hill of chocolate, voyeurs and sugary tea for listeners to die on; it was time to don your chain mail and repel the invaders once and for all.