Such anti-odds, too: overlong hiatus, multiple producers, guitarist Graham Coxon gone, Damon Albarn progressively Gorillaz-distracted, a follow-up to one of the band's most celebrated albums. Threats of world music style-colonization.
But what Blur ended up with was unshackled and open-eyed. Relaxed. Not since 1994's Parklife had everything felt so warm and honest and free of internal disorder and exponential reputation-anxiety.
Like anything worth the effort, the assumed flaws turned out to be features. There was a sense of genuine reset. The eclecticism had sincerity. Drowned In Sound wrote: 'If the genius of a guitarist is really measured in what they don't play, then Think Tank is Graham Coxon's greatest work'.
Only history has gotten in the way of the fragile, astonishing peace of "Sweet Song", the mad-abyss Britpop counterpart that's "Me, White Noise", or the delirious, all-smiles, tumbledown collision of U.K. Big Beat and Mali pop radiating off of "Gene By Gene". Elsewhere, "Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club" unearths the secret global rhythms hidden inside the ill-fated, Factory Records-destroying Happy Mondays record Yes Please!, while "We've Got A File On You" remains, year after year, one of the most unsettlingly joyous post-millennial protest anthems.
All of which dances around "Out Of Time". At first, a slight return. Except it's aged well, like a lifelong love. Subtle and carefully powerful beyond all the doubts.
Somehow everything fell together.
If Blur never make another record — now with welcome reinforcement from last year's spiritual follow-up "The Puritan" — it's a fine one to end on.
A gentle, eddying victory.
Ambulance Out Of Time Good Song Sweet Song Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club Me, White Noise Gene By Gene The Puritan We've Got A File On You Battery In Your Leg