With news of their reformation leading to a series of sold-out stadium shows, and a new album – The Ballad Of Darren – set to come out this July, Britpop legends Blur have once again become a going concern when it comes to British alternative music.
But the London quartet have already had an incredible career, constantly evolving their sound as the years went by (Swervedriver's Adam Franklin once told us that, in 90s indie parlance, to "do a Blur" was to completely upend your sound and reinvent yourself after every album). As such, they can be thanked in large part for the continued evolution in the indie landscape, and a handful of brand new bands who have followed in their wake. Here, a selection we're confident you'll dig if you’re a Blur fan.
Liverpool’s High Vis are made up of members of a variety of underground UK hardcore bands, and that energy and attitude unquestionably runs through the heart of their sound. But the quintet have been very clear that this project is shaped by their love of British post-punk and indie bands, from Gang Of Four to The Stone Roses. Their second album, 2022’s Blending, is a superb mix of punk rock production and swaggering indie rock, the chiming guitars, sneering melodic hooks and throbbing bass of songs like Fever Dream and Talk For Hours could have been plucked straight from Blur’s debut Leisure.
Cornish quartet Colour TV have only released a pair of EPs and a handful of singles since 2021, but they've shown an impressively wide set of influences in such a limited amount of material. You can hear their love for everyone from The Smiths to Smashing Pumpkins to Idlewild to Bloc Party to Suede and beyond in their excellent 2022 EP How To Ask. But possibly the most inescapable comparison is the sound of Blur’s baggy Britpop goes punk years. Listen to the excellent Wherever You Need – it wouldn’t take too much to imagine it slotting in nicely on Modern Life Is Rubbish.
Part of Brighton's fertile alternative scene, Squid’s debut full length album, 2021’s Bright Green Field, was enthusiastically received by both critics and fans, peaking at number 4 on the UK album chart and achieving glowing reviews from both Pitchfork and NME. The band have spoken openly about their love of krautrock, but their innate sense of melody and knack for writing oddly memorable hooks, when mixed with their more experimental leanings, make comparisons with Blur’s 13 and Think Tank-eras more than a little relevant. Their second album O Monolith is just about to drop, it should make Squid massive.
Back in the 90s, Blur leaned in hard on their Britishness with a sound and aesthetic that conjured images of dog tracks, Camden pubs, 18-30s holidays and 9 to 5 drudgery, all of which painted a picture of what it was like to exist as a regular Joe in the UK in the 1990s. Kid Kapichi do a similar thing with 2020s Britain – melding searing punk with massive melodies on 2022’s Here’s What You Could Have Won album, they brilliantly captured modern inner city frustrations, conservative suburban boredom and working class struggle. A song like New England could be an angrier sequel to Girls And Boys, and used as evidence of the UK’s social decline in the period between the two records.
Another Brighton-based band, this quintet, who formed in 2018, are far more indebted to the fizzy, energetic pop-punk of Blur in their chart-topping days than they are their later, more unconventional material. Youth Sector have yet to release a full-length album, but their recent EP Free Parking is full of popping bass-lines that Alex James would love, some scratchy, Graham Coxon guitar tones and plenty of pure, anthemic pop choruses, whilst 2020 standalone single No Fanfare sounds like Song 2 if it was written for Parklife.