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Blur announce new album The Ballad of Darren ahead of Wembley Stadium debut

The album marks Blur’s first release since 2015 (Reuben Bastienne-Lewis)
The album marks Blur’s first release since 2015 (Reuben Bastienne-Lewis)

Blur have announced their first studio album in eight years, in the run up to their first ever appearance at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The Britpop legends release their album The Ballad of Darren on July 21, with first single The Narcissist out now.

The ten-track project marks the band’s first album since their chart-topping 2015 release The Magic Whip, and was recorded at both London’s Studio 13 and in Devon. The album’s artwork was created by British photographer Martin Parr.

Vocalist Damon Albarn described the album as “a truly emotional record”, in an interview with The Sun, and revealed he wrote it while on the road with his other band, Gorillaz.

“I didn’t tell anyone I was writing an album,” he said. “I had a studio which came with me everywhere, so I recorded all over the place.”

He added: “This is an aftershock record, reflection and comment on where we find ourselves now.”

Drummer Dave Rowntree also commented on the new project: “It always feels very natural to make music together. With every record we do, the process reveals something new and we develop as a band. We don’t take that for granted.”

 (Blur / Martin Parr)
(Blur / Martin Parr)

The band are promoting the album with a series of intimate gigs, commencing at Colchester Arts Centre on May 19, marking the band’s first ever appearance at their hometown venue.

Blur will then continue their run of warm up performances with a further event at Eastbourne Winter Gardens on May 21, followed by a stop at The Halls, Wolverhampton on May 26. They will then play Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on May 28, followed by Dublin’s Malahide Castle on June 24, ahead of a summer of highly anticipated shows.

They will perform at London’s Wembley Stadium for the first time ever on Saturday July 8. Tickets for the show sold out in minutes following the announcement, with a second Wembley date later added for Sunday July 9.

News of the band’s revival has also spurred discussions of a potential comeback for their Britpop rivals Oasis. Albarn, who once described Oasis as being “like the bullies I had to put up with at school”, but also admitted on Newsnight that he thought that Blur’s rivals were “better at communicating who they were”, believes the troubled Gallagher brothers will come back together.

“I can guarantee they’re going to reform,” says Damon. “In fact, I’ve put money on it.”

He said: “They’re brothers, and it would be wonderful to see them reconcile.”

Blur’s new album will be available in multiple formats, including digital download and stream, vinyl options, and standard CD, as well as a deluxe CD including two additional tracks.

Blur have been a major influence in English popular music since the release of their 1991 debut album Leisure, and achieved the feat of six successive number one albums in the UK. The impressive run of releases includes 1994’s Parklife, which won the BRIT Award for British Album of the Year; The Great Escape the following year; and 1997’s self-titled album. The group also have ten NME Awards, six Q Awards, five BRIT Awards and an Ivor Novello to their name.

The Ballad of Darren tracklist:

1.The Ballad

2.St Charles Square

3.Barbaric

4.Russian Strings

5.The Everglades (For Leonard)

6.The Narcissist

7.Goodbye Albert

8.Far Away Island

9.Avalon

10.The Heights

Blur’s The Ballad of Darren will be released July 21 via Parlophone