Blur Readies New Best-Of Collection

blur-550Blur will release Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide To Blur (Capitol/EMI) on July 28. The album chronicles the band’s two-decade career, from post-grunge Britpop to squeaky-clean and serene and back again. Frontman Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon and bassist Alex James grew up in Colchester, England, and formed the group, with drummer Dave Rowntree chasing closely after the bus. Midlife is the musical memoir to guide you through the hits that built the band and the ones that almost broke it down. The 25-song LP spans seven studio albums—1991’s Leisure, 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish, 1994’s Parklife, 1995’s The Great Escape, 1997’s Blur, 1999’s 13 and 2003’s Think Tank—and sports cover art by infamous U.K. street artist Banksy. Midlife splinters gassed-up power-pop hits like “Popscene” (an out-of-print 1992 single) with sedated, finger-plucked riffs such as 2003’s “Out Of Time.” Listening to a greatest-hits record from a band given to reinventing itself is schizophrenic; it’s dark electric basement pop and collared shirts on one side and sanitized white suits and eyeliner on the other.