23. The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land

“Leave me my silver jubilee mug”

A full twelve years on from their eponymous debut, The Good, the Bad & The Queen finally got around to getting that difficult second album out. To be fair, Damon has had a pretty hectic decade.

Bass legend and fully paid up member of the band, Paul Simenon, describes this collection as “modern English folk with a bit of rub-a-dub”. And when you listen to it, his description makes perfect sense. It’s the perfect synopsis of post-Brexit England, a land at a crossroads, pining for a bygone age that never really existed.

Lyrically, it’s clear that Albarn has got himself a railcard and toured the length and breadth of the country’s least glamorous towns and cities, taking notes wherever he went and reporting back in this collection of songs. In that respect it is so similar to Parklife in that it’s the perfect commentary of our times. The difference is where Parklife was fuelled with hope, belief and new Brittania aspirations, Merrie Land is mournful and tragic.

The songs themselves are beautifully composed and perfectly played. In keeping with the low key mood, nothing is overblown. But collectively, they make for a wonderful listen.

Merrie Land may not quite be the best album of the decade. But it is the best commentary on where we are right now in this post-Brexit Merrie Land.

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