Everyone has a favorite band, or musical act. I’ve flirted with a couple different artists who at different times during my life I identified as being my favorite. These include U2, Radiohead, Talking Heads, and The Clash at different points in my life. I definitely love all of these bands, but I love Blur just a bit more.

I think the reason being is that they just have more consistent albums and also have a six album run (from Modern Life Is Rubbish through Think Tank) that is the finest and most consistent consecutive album run I’ve ever heard. I contend that they have the best musical output of any group during the 1990’s. I also, think that the 90’s is the best decade of music ever, I’m a gen Xer, sue me.

Another point for Blur are that they also are the band I’m probably most apt to listen to over all of the others I’ve named and not named. I’m going to take a listen to all of their albums and comment on them.

So we’ll kick things off with Leisure their debut album. I do want to make a quick note. I’ll be reviewing the US release which is different from the UK release. If you look at the Wikipedia link about the album I provided you’ll see that the song “Sing” which is a totally masterpiece in my mind was replaced by the song “I Know”. This definitely makes the US release not as good. There will be an odd version release of the their second album, and the US release will greatly enhance that one, but I digress.

Track 1: “She’s So High”: The first single released from the album and therefore ever for the band. It’s a good song, a bit subdued with a stonerish quality. They would improve upon this type of song in the future. For it being a single there’s quite a long instrumental breakdown in the middle of the song which I like. Blur don’t get nearly the credit for the expansiveness of their sound and artistic risks they take. Again, explored much more going forward. Solid song.

Track 2: “There’s No Other Way”: Their biggest hit and the also the best song off of the first album. This was most likely my first exposure to the band. Loved it then and still do today. Blur has the ability (when they want to) to have a bit of swing in their songs, that a band like Radiohead does not possess.

Track 3: “Bang”: So the US release has a different order than the UK release and it front loads their 3 singles. I get why this was released as a single but it’s a meh from me. It’s fine.

Track 4: “I Know”: So this is the song that replaced “Sing” on the US version. Just not a great song at all. It’s the polar opposite of a song like “Sing”. I could see why a dumb record exec would make the change though on a debut album. They were trying to shape Blur’s sound a bit on this album, Blur will quickly define their own sound on their second album and consistently tinker with and expand it moving forward.

Track 5: “Slow Down”: Again, not a great song. The rest of this album will be the worst music Blur puts out IMO. They do switch up the tempo and mood of the song in the middle, and it just doesn’t quite take, but again, this will be telling for future releases.

Track 6: “Repetition”: I like the drums on this sound. Dave Rowntree can definitely get into a boom-bap type of sound on a lot of their later releases and that happens successfully here. Coxon is putting in tons of good work here as well. Upon a re-listen I’m really digging this song. The good weirdness about this band is sticking on this tune. Also, this is the longest song on the US release, and long songs are a strength for this band.

Track 7: “Bad Day”: This song is fine. Again, I feel like they were kind of being shaped on this album, but some future signature Blur goodness is popping through as well. The harmonica/flute thing that Albarn loves makes it’s debut on this song, very briefly.

Track 8: “High Cool”: This song sounds a bit like “There’s No Other Way” but it’s not good.

Track 9: “Come Together”: Another song that I just don’t like.

Track 10: “Fool”: A bit better than the previous two songs, but just not a great song. Kind of a theme of this album.

Track 11: “Birthday”: This song doesn’t work, but it’s the first one on the album that slows things down, which will become a huge strength of this band. A little too Beatlesque musically, which is to be expected on a debut album, meaning their influences may show a bit. I do like the last minute of the song. It’s just a loud musical outro which they will perfect in future releases.

Track 12: “Wear Me Down”: They slow the tempo down again here. Again, this song just doesn’t work.

So that’s it. A pretty blah release all things considered. This doesn’t portend what will happen on their sophomore release and the rest of their existence. I don’t think it’s all the band’s fault, it’s a debut album with a terrific single and a couple more good songs.

The one thing that I find hilarious is that “Sing” isn’t included on the album. It’s just a stunner of a song and I’d have to wait until the release of the Trainspotting Soundtrack to hear it.

“Sing” features everything that’s great about Blur as a band. Listening now I just got huge music chills from the opening of the song. The song is a bit meandering, noisy and unsafe, everything that Leisure isn’t. It’s a bit telling to me that the US release ditched this song and moved all the singles to the front of the album. Blur will quickly escape whatever was being suppressed about their sound and gel as my favorite band on their next release (as I’ve mentioned a bunch already).

Great Songs: “There’s No Other Way” and “Sing” had it been included on the US version I purchased back in the 90’s.

Good Songs: “She’s So High”, “Repetition”

Allmusic Review of Leisure 3/5 stars