Almost two years on from their last new material, the slight ‘Fool’s Day’ (which also included a ‘Westway’ reference), Damon and co finally unveiled another new Blur track, ‘Under The Westway’, at their Teenage Cancer Trust show on February 19 – and then unveiled it to the wider world on July 2 via a live stream.
Albarn’s acting school/musicals influence shows itself on ‘Under The Westway’. Unbothered by any pan-global musical influences, or snarky cartoon characters making an appearance, this is a mournful piano ballad. We find Damon plodding away, in the style of his hero Ray Davies, or Rufus Wainwright.
The man who has, throughout his lyric writing career, sneered at technological progress, longs for a simpler time. “Give us the day, they switch off the machines,” he pleads. Still, there’s a sense that whilst not quite an ‘Olympic spirit’, Damon has found his London lover once again. “It was bright day in my city today,” he sing proudly before mentioning that he was, “watching comets” from his smoggy locale.
And really who better than the man who put East London dog racing on the cover of ‘Parklife’ and made the shipping forecast palatable in ‘This Is a Low’ to celebrate an ugly West London motorway underpass? One of the finest songs they’ve ever written, and certainly one of the saddest.