Blur–Look Inside America

For someone who’s spent 25 years defining the sound of British music, Damon Albarn has spent a lot of time thinking about America.  Blur’s early relationship with the US could be described as cynical and suspicious, but by the time he released the Gorillaz travelogue The Fall, Albarn seemed to have developed a respect for the place, having lived enough to understand its genuine small pleasures.  The making of Blur’s eponymous album was the turning point.  Guitarist Graham Coxon had made Albarn a convert to the American indie sound.  The band, further along in their careers, were over any pressure to make it big in America.  Conversely, it would seem Albarn realized America provided none of the pressures of home: tabloids, feuds and intense expectations.  It’s at this point, his adversarial leanings gave way to comfortable ambivalence.  “Look inside America/She’s all right/She’s all right,” he admits, while adding “But I don’t know if it means much to me.”  Instead, he lets the vagaries of life on the road wash over him, managing to find some comfort in a place that once seemed so at odds with him.  The song is a sonic and spiritual successor to End of a Century.  Both begin with unadorned guitar before morphing into clear Beatles homage.  Both display an underwhelming attitude toward something frequently seen as overwhelmingly exciting (“End of a century/It’s nothing special”).  But in the three years that passed between the two songs, Albarn seems to have come around to understanding that “nothing special” isn’t always such a bad way to live.

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