Modern Life is Rubbish, released in May 1993, is the second studio album by English alternative rock band Blur. The album was a moderate chart success in the UK, peaking at number 15, while the singles from the album charted in the Top 30. Modern Life is Rubbish is regarded as one of the defining releases of the Britpop scene, and Blur’s chart-topping follow-up albums Parklife and The Great Escape, allowed the band to emerge as one of Britain’s leading pop acts.
Before releasing this album, Blur had faced serious backlash from the media following the release of their first album, Leisure, in 1991. The band had fallen from public favour and was under threat of being dropped by their label. At the same time, Blur discovered that they were £60,000 in debt, due to mismanagement. Blur hired a new manager, who sent them to the US to try to recoup their losses, but the tour was unsuccessful.
When Blur began working on their second album, they chose Andy Partridge as their producer. Partridge was dissatisfied with the songs, but was fond of the band, which is why he agreed to the project. These sessions, however, did not last long and did not go well. Bassist Alex James described the sessions as a “disaster”.
Work on Modern Life is Rubbish resumed due to a chance meeting with producer Stephen Street, who had worked with the band previously on their 1991 single, “There’s No Other Way.” With Street now producing the album, Blur recorded a mix of material spanning both the period immediately after the release of Leisure and their 1992 tour. Though their label initially rejected the album and told the band to record more potential singles, the members of the band were pleased with the sessions.
The songs on Modern Life is Rubbish explore a number of different styles, but the sound is highly influenced by the traditional guitar pop of British bands like the Kinks, the Jam, the Small Faces, and the Who. According to NME, the opening track “For Tomorrow”, is “quintessential Blur. Damon perennially bored, never stops singing, and Graham Coxon supplies is usual immaculate guitar accompaniment.” Most of the songs on the album are melodic and lushly produced, and often supplemented by a brass section, string arrangement, and backing vocals. The lyrics on the album are a social commentary and satire on contemporary suburban English life and takes a cynical look as middle class existence.
Watch the full video below to see exactly how this amazing album was created!