Transcribed by Aida
new straits times newspaper, wed. 31 march 99
the britpop band's 6th album is a transitional work that sees it going backward to move forward. what that means is, it has streamlined its sound but takes more liberties with structure for a looser ride. unfortunately, that makes for a somewhat incohesive journey, especially when the attractiveness of tunes like 'coffee & tv' & 'mellow song' is diminished by such silly punk-inspired larks as 'b.l.u.r.e.m.i.'& 'swamp song' stick to the early albums if you're nota hardcore fan.
performance: 2.5 out of 5
sound: 3 out of 5
by melody l. goh - the star newspaper, mon. 22 march 99
there's nothing more entertaining than listening to something really out of ordinary. you know, like having 5 cellists play songs from metallica or a rock singer performing a duet with a tenor. 13, blur's 6th album, defined by the band as 'the best they've ever done' escapes the usual mainstream rock music music we get these days, so nuch so you're actually grateful for all the weird sounds & riffs on some of the songs .
take for example, the 1st single 'tender'. those who are familiar with traditional Iban (one of the races in malaysia) string instrument 'sape' (it's like a guitar, & pronounced 'saa-pay') would make a comparison between that & the melodic riff on the intro of 'tender'. hymn-like yet catchy, 'tender' seems to be the only 'easy-listening' track on the album.
another favourite is the electronic-tinged 'battle', which catches damon albarn singing in a soft falsetto tone. then there's the strangely addictive 'bugman', complete with its edgy guitar riffs & distorted slashes (& the distinctive sound of an electric drill, no less).
'coffee & tv' sounds a little bit like a better version of cornershop's 'brimful of asha', without all the cuteness, of course. the acoustic ingenuity of 'mellow song' makes the song a great listening experience . follow that up with the tuneful 'trailer park', a song originally written for the southpark album ,& you'll get a mixed bag of cool rhythms & fancy arrangements.
not for the faint-hearted, this album strikes a home run for listeners who've been wishing for a small foray out of their usual ball park.
no ratings here.
by gerald martinez, - sunday style, sun. 4 apr. 99
leading lights of the movemont known as britpop, blur was the king of british charts in 1995.
this is the group's 6th album ,& marks their 10 years as a band. damon albarn & graham coxon met at colchester's stanway school & teamed 1st with local itinerant musician dave rowntree & later alex james of bournemouth.
they became blur in 1989 , & their tuneful blend of pop, grunge & rock found them garlanded with awards & #1 singles. but never content to stay in one place , the group underwent a process of creative regeneration that found them turning more to experimental music &, significantly, the work of mavericks such as beck & dub music.
this album, recorded & mixed with william orbit ,represents a break with the past in many ways. it is the 1st album on which the group haven't collaborated with stephen street.
the new way of working involved lenghty improvisations around song structures which orbit & his boffins would painstakingly record & edit. the result is a sound that has its roots in rock * pop but with overlays of electronica bringing it into the future.
the opening track, 'tender' ,has a hymnal quality about it over a plodding beat as the song grows from a simple opening of a lone voice & acoustic guitars. the song then builds up till a gospel group kicks in with stunningly rich & powerful voices to elevate the song to another level.
'coffee & tv' is an uncluttered pop tune , while 'swamp song' is a metallic riffer & 'b.l.u.r.e.m.i is a furious punk rocker. then again 'battle' is a complex & moody piece of progressive rock that pink floyd might be proud of.
there's also the anguished yet hopeful blues of 'no distance left to run' .u might hear the influences of gorups from the fall to faust, nick drake,pink floyd, the staples singers ,wire & augustus pablo. familiar & strange at the same time- that's blur.
by alfean hardy - the sunday star newspaper, sun. 21 march 99
there comes a time in the career of any band when the desire for chart positions & shifting units by the lorryloads becomes immaterial. blur did that with their epynomous 5th album. but even then, that fan-scaring album had the sin to come up with the gem that is 'song 2' & a hit with 'beetlebum'. & so it sold.
with 13, the goal of mass-market suicide is finally attained. never has there been a collection of radio & market unfriendly songs such as the ones here. at least, not since lou reed's 'metal machine music'. but even then, never has utter un-sellability been so brilliant. despite being produced by dance producer william orbit, 13 is definitely not a dance album, although a strong electronic element does run through it & culminates in the bizarre 'battle' & the cold & distant 'trailerpark'
rather, 13 is a collection of rogh ideas taken to the extreme with commercial interest never a factor to contend with. this devil-may-care attitude is typified by the chaos of overdrive that is 'bugman' & the worn-out intensity of the aching 'no distance left to run'
there's no 'parklife' here. no 'charmless man' to put a smile onto your face. no 'for tomorrow' to sing along to. only stark contrasts, sometimes appearing on the same track. these r the songs from a band that has thrown caution to to the wind & is willing to stuff the sum of all its influences into a blender & hitting the frappe switch.
elements of gospel,robert johnson,black sabbath the kinks,the sex pistols, kraftwerk & even portishead appear on songs like 'coffee & tv','swamp song','b.l.u.r.e.m.i.' & 1992. even 'trimm trabb' sounds like late period depeche mode.
all those moments r backed by an aelectronic background that only embellishes & never detracts from the presentation. never has a band sounded so sure of its ability to systematically strip away every success it has ever achieved. & do it all with a smile on its face. 13 is ultimately the scariest thing u will ever hear this year.
difficult,discordant,brilliant,such r adjactives that best descibe 13. aside from the gospel/blues/industrial hybrid of 'tender & the kinks-ian 'coffee & tv' this album may not generate any radio-friendly singles. neither will bring back the fans that 'blur' chased away.
but if u r looking for an album that scares, infuriates, beguiles & ultimately sucks into a maelstrom of conflicting emotions, then 13 must surely be the one. 13 is utter brilliance. what more can be said?
reviewer gave a recommendation