The best part about “Go Out”, the lead single from Blur’s first full-length album in 12 years, is that a lot of people probably won’t like it.
Its side-stepping bassline and timid backbeat set the stage, but “Go Out” is, like all great Blur tracks, all about Damon Albarn’s stretched-out vocal phrasings interacting with Graham Coxon’s lyrical, expressive guitar work. The two collide and build upon each other to reach a climax that isn’t really that much of a climax, typical of the band’s mid- and late-period phases. Albarn finds an obtuse way to speak about isolation, dancing with himself, and then going out to the local (and sometimes, the lo-o-o-cal) on his ownsome, all while Coxon unleashes all the distortion he can out of his cheap pedal before trying to wrestle all of it to the ground in spectacular fashion, our ears caught up more in the struggle than the result. When you get down to it, this is a weird-ass little ditty, and therein lies its charm.
Sniff around “Go Out” and there not a whiff of crossover intentions to be found. This is not “Blur 2.0”, an aborted Gorillaz record, or even a continuation of the short-lived trio configuration that put out Think Tank. In fact, this single could very well have listed as a B-side to 1995’s The Great Escape and no one would bat an eye. Much like the spare post-millennial Blur tracks that have come out, ranging from the gloriously lazy “Fool’s Day” to the sleepy “Under the Westway”, all “Go Out” sounds like is a regular old album cut, which is another way of saying that this is something that will be devoured by those who are already a part of the Blur cult, but will do little to win over new conversions.
Few people are going to call “Go Out” an iconic song, but instead of pulling a Coldplay by churning out cheap EDM hits or making like Noel Gallagher and settling into a routine of placid adult-contemporary rockers, Blur decided that after all the reunion concerts and massive box sets, their real big comeback move should just be trying to sound like Blur. Love it or hate it, “Go Out” captures that rare, nervy energy that has become their signature.
Welcome back, boys.