Popscene [12"]

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Blur's first truly great single and a clear harbinger of what the band's immediate future would be, the instantly catchy "Popscene" first surfaced as a stand-alone release a year before Modern Life Is Rubbish came out. The whole band sounds energized like rarely before, almost giddily playing the addictive melody -- Rowntree's drumming is brisk, to the fore, James' bassline quietly effective, Coxon going happily nuts along with the backing horn blasts, and Albarn himself anything but the bored stereotype he was earlier. The other songs on the 12" cover a variety of ground -- "I'm Fine" is almost a throwback to earlier baggy days, but with a cooler neo-psych melody (and a great solo!) from Coxon, nervous drumming from Rowntree, and an all-around better edge. "Mace" reappears from the CD single without change. "Garden Central," meanwhile, qualifies as a Great Lost Blur Track, an instrumental drone rock number that constantly swells, falls back, and returns in a series of seemingly endless loops; easily the trippiest thing the band ever recorded.