Music

Blur - "There's No Other Way"

Throughout the course of its storied career, Blur more often than not seemed to be playing a role. While the Britpop group’s incarnations as faux-Cockney punters (circa Parklife) and as the British Pavement (Blur) are most often hailed as the band’s high water marks, Blur’s early dabbling in the top trends of the British indie scene at the start of the 1990s—Madchester and shoegaze—on its 1991 debut Leisure is often referred to in less affectionate terms, if at all. In spite of the lack of love for that period, consensus is clear that the record yielded at least one top tune, “There’s No Other Way”, a groovy genre workout that outdid some of the better attempts at crafting danceable Madchester singles by actual Mancunian bands.

Surprisingly for a tune that unashamedly leapt onto the baggy bandwagon, the star of Blur’s second single (and first pop hit) is not any component of the rhythm section, but Graham Coxon and his deliriously sinewy guitar lines. If you ever wondered why some diehard metal musicians and even arch Blur-hater Noel Gallagher will wax enthusiastically about Coxon’s talents, here’s one of the best examples of why. Spooling out indelible riffs like they’re going out of style, Coxon’s playing is quite lyrical, sliding up and down the neck of the instrument with hammer-ons and pull-offs galore adding flair. Some of my favorite moments include Coxon pulling back tastefully after Damon Albarn sings “All that you can do is watch them play” in each chorus, his backwards-sounding guitar solo, and the flurry of high-pitched licks that end the track with an ecstatic rush.

Not that the rest of the band are slouches. Listening to how well bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree groove together here, their efforts on Blur’s 1994 dancefloor-conquering megahit “Girls & Boys” sounds relatively staid. True, Damon Albarn’s lyrics from this period were maddeningly lacking in substance (this being a time before the future Gorillaz mastermind started immersing his work in the quirks and quandaries of the quintessentially English lifestyle), but this was also before he began acting (and singing) like his own exaggerated idea of a working-class football hooligan, which makes him far more bearable here than he is on much of the group’s mid-period material. Albarn is definitely cocky on “There’s No Other Way”, yet he also keeps a distance with his wispy phrasing, teasing the listener into submitting to the tune’s allure with his come-hither delivery.

Comparing this song to, say, the Charlatans’ 1990 hit “The Only One I Know” (which I love, by the way) or pretty much anything by Inspiral Carpets, and “There’s No Other Way” totally outshines those exercises in wedding rock stylings to acid house dance beats. In fact, it synthesizes the (to diehards on both sides of the fence) diametrically-opposed genre elements in a way that few others have matched. And to think, there are still people out there who maintain you can’t dance to guitar music.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.