Yesterday, Blur released "Fool's Day," the first song they've recorded as a four-piece since 2003's "Battery in Your Leg." I was, of course, excited. Regrettably, the song was released as a Record Store Day single in the UK only, and it was limited to 1,000 copies. This is to say, it's already selling on e-bay for $230. No worries, I'm not considering it.
Let me explain why.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, I've managed to listen to the song. They're even giving it away through their website, albeit as a shortened mp3 edit of the physical single. And in many ways, I wish I hadn't. The romance of not knowing what Blur's last song sounds like, the idea of always having that window open, is a powerful thing, and it would have kept me from feeling how I feel now. "Fool's Day" has usurped "Battery In Your Leg"'s position as the final song of the Blur catalogue (not counting b-sides).
Here's the thing; "Battery In Your Leg" was the last song on Think Tank, Blur's last album. It was also the last song they recorded as a group. The rest of the album didn't feature Graham Coxon anywhere. "Battery in Your Leg" has a strange melancholy to it, one that would become a bit of a hallmark for Albarn's later work, but which was new at the time. The lyrics speak in abstractions, but they allude to loss, and moving on, and the end of something important. There was, is, and will be no song better-suited to be Blur's epitaph than "Battery In Your Leg." It is one of their masterpieces.
"Fool's Day" is not a bad song. I cannot tell you "Fool's Day" is bad. But it's not good, either. It is admirable in that it manages to include some aspect of every phase Blur have gone through. That notion does leave me drooling at the possibilities of what Think Tank would have sounded like with Coxon around, but I wouldn't change anything. So few bands manage to go out on top form, and Blur certainly managed to do just that. I wasn't aware of them when they did so. But now I'm around to watch them fuck it up.