9 · Luxembourg
Who says Britpop is dead? Pretty much everybody, I guess, although nobody seems to have told the bands: Oasis are gearing up for another monster tour; Graham Coxon is reliving mid-’90s Blur on Happiness in Magazines; and a host of others are still making music, even if we’ve lost some of the best along the way (RIP Pulp and Suede). A few are even making better albums today than they were ten years ago—like these guys.
The Bluetones’ first album, Expecting to Fly, is the one everyone remembers; I liked it, but it was a bit of a Stone Roses retread, and it was hard to think they would last. Their second showed improvement, though, and the third, Science and Nature, was one of the best albums of its year. Unfortunately, its year was 2000, a good twelve months past Britpop’s use-by date, and the album tanked. Judging from the number of copies selling for a fiver in FOPP, this 2003 follow-up must have tanked as well. Naturally, I love it. The opening and closing tracks are highlights, along with mid-point “I Love the City”; and at 35 minutes rather than 50 or 60, Luxembourg leaves you wanting more rather than less.
Other contenders for this Britpop slot included Space’s belated third album, Suburban Rock’n’Roll (not as good as Spiders but on a par with Tin Planet); and the entire collected works of the Lightning Seeds, especially Jollification and Dizzy Heights, which are available in just about any UK charity store for a few quid each. That’s the good thing about exploring a genre that was hugely popular a few years ago but whose fans have largely moved on... even if it’s not so good for the bands.