The band celebrate their last week of work by buying some toys...

It’s “playtime” for BLUR – as the group enter their last week working on their new album, an LP which is the “record of our lives” according to ALEX JAMES.

Blur are currently in Devon, putting the final touches to their seventh studio album, due early in 2003.

Since heading to the south west, the band have been joined by producer William Orbit. Stephen Street, who produced their classic ‘Parklife’ album, as well as a host of others, has also been in the studio with the group.

Alex James has said that work in the studio has pretty much come to an end, with those still in Devon enjoying a “Christmassy ambience”.

“Mince Pies. People are setting fire to 1/2 inch mastering tape and making loops of the damage,” he wrote on It’s playtime. Also there are rockets, Dave got them from Hamley’s. They go really high and come down on a parachute. It’s tempting to stay here forever trying to make a rocket that can achieve escape velocity, or inventing stuff in the barn.”

James also said that because this album has been in the works for over a year, it has given the tracks a chance to “grow naturally”.

He said: “It’s a year since we started recording, there have been gaps, so it hasn’t taken a whole year in the studio, but the passage of time has allowed everything to grow naturally. We’ve recorded so many tracks we haven’t had to be precious about any of them. Sonically, musically, rhythmically, lyrically and in terms of hip shakin’ grooves and hot licks, we have a made a record of our lives.

“We’ll be delivering a truckload of tracks to the record company; it’s annoying that a recording contract only recognises the concept of “album” when you’ve made a body of work like this. They should be able to cope, En garde.”

A hint of the band’s new direction was revealed earlier this month, with the track ‘Don’t Bomb When You Are The Bomb’ hitting the airwaves to a largely shocked reaction from fans.

As far back as March, frontman Damon Albarn had pin-pointed the song as a potential single, and he had stated the band’s intention to release something as a white label: “We’ll put a white label out in the next couple of months and it won’t have our name on it, but it’ll take a lot of people by surprise. We’re hoping people play it not knowing who it is.”