Evolving from their flowery debut album Leisure (1991), Blur–aka singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bass guitarist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree—became one of the forefathers of Britpop, turning their backs on the grunge scene to feed off the hooks of 1960s legends The Kinks and Small Faces. Chirpy, brash and unmistakeably English, Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993) inspired a new generation of UK guitar bands and Parklife (1994) became one of the defining albums of the era. Bouncy indie hits "Girls & Boys," "Parklife" and "End of a Century" teed up a bitter showdown with rivals Oasis climaxing, in a mass of media hype, in a race for No 1 between Blur's "Country House" and Oasis' "Roll With It." Blur won and their album The Great Escape (1996) also topped the charts, though Oasis became the people's champions. Abandoning cockney caricatures, they embraced American garage rock on Blur (1997) before Damon Albarn chronicled his break-up with Elastica's Justine Frishman on the gospel-tinged 13 (1999). For their seventh studio album, the anti-war experiment Think Tank (2003), Blur worked with producer Ben Hillier along with Norman Cook and William Orbit. The critically acclaimed LP was the band's first to not feature Graham Coxon. Eighth album The Magic Whip was released in 2015 and gave Blur their sixth UK number-one to date. The band returned seven years later with The Ballad of Darren, produced by James Ford.

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