Parklife is the third studio album by British rock band Blur, released on April 25, 1994.
After the critically acclaimed yet commercially disappointing Modern Life Is Rubbish, the band returned to prominence in the UK music scene (especially in the rapidly growing Britpop movement) with this release, spawning the hit singles "Girls & Boys", "Parklife", "End of a Century", and "To the End", which charted at #5, #10, #19, and #16, respectively.
Unlike their previous releases, this frothy blend of pop and alternative rock managed to win over practically every critic in Europe, who hailed it as a classic mix of style, wit, and good songs. Its critical and commercial reception has only grown since its release; it is often considered one of the 1990s' best albums.
- Damon Albarn lead and backing vocals, keyboards, Hammond organ, Moog synthesiser, melodica, programming
- Graham Coxon guitars, backing vocals, clarinet, saxophone, percussion
- Alex James bass guitar, vocals on "Far Out"
- Dave Rowntree drums, percussion, programming
- "Girls & Boys" (4:50)
- "Tracy Jacks" (4:20)
- "End of a Century" (2:46)
- "Parklife" (3:05)
- "Bank Holiday" (1:42)
- "Badhead" (3:25)
- "The Debt Collector" (2:10)
- "Far Out" (1:41)
- "To the End" (4:05)
- "London Loves" (4:15)
- "Trouble in the Message Center" (4:09)
- "Clover Over Dover" (3:22)
- "Magic America" (3:38)
- "Jubilee" (2:47)
- "This Is a Low" (5:07)
- "Lot 105" (1:17)
Who's that trope lord marching?:
- Absentee Actor: Dave Rowntree didn't actually play on "Girls and Boys", his part being played by a drumming machine that he programmed.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "London Loves".
- Animal Motifs: The greyhounds on the cover symbolize England's middle class, their life a continuous loop where everyday is the same.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Alex James in the "Parklife" video.
- Audience Participation Song: The audience supplies the "TRAY-CEE JAAAAACKS" shouts on "Tracy Jacks".
- Bilingual Bonus:
- "To the End" has Stereolab singer Lætitia Sadier speaking French between the lines of the verses. The "French version" from the "Parklife" single renders all of the lyrics in French instead (thus making the song hilarious because of Damon's awful pronunciation), and the "La Comédie" version from the "Country House" single replaces Sadier with Françoise Hardy.
- "Girls and Boys" has a bit of Gratuitous German.
- Broken Record: Near the end of "Far Out", the word "sun" is repeated 24 times.
- Call-and-Response Song: "Parklife", with the spoken lines done by Phil Daniels.
- Concept Album: Damon Albarn told NME:For me, Parklife is like a loosely linked concept album involving all these different stories. It's the travels of the mystical lager-eater, seeing what's going on in the world and commenting on it.
- Driven to Suicide: "Clover Over Dover".
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: "To the End", with an alternate version recorded entirely in French. As mentioned above the original featured French spoken word backing vocals by Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab. The all-French "La Comedie" version features vocals from Françoise Hardy.
- Genre Roulette: A wide range of influences are heard here, the synthpop-influenced hit single "Girls & Boys", the instrumental waltz interlude of "The Debt Collector", the Punk Rock-influenced "Bank Holiday", the spacey, Syd Barrett-esque "Far Out", the sixties lounge music-esque "To the End" and the fairly new wave-influenced "Trouble in the Message Centre".
- Gratuitous German:
- "Girls & Boys": "Du bist sehr schön/But we haven't been introduced" ("You're very pretty.").
- "Parklife" "it's not always vorsprung durch technik, you know."
- Instrumental: "The Debt Collector".
- List Song: "Far Out" is just a list of planets, stars, and moons that are visible at night.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Mentioned in passing in "Parklife".All the people, so many people
And they all go hand-in-hand, hand-in-hand through their Parklife
- Lyrical Dissonance:
I'm on the white cliffs of Dover
- "To the End" sounds like a lush, '60s chamber-pop throwback love song. Its actually about a couple realizing their relationship is over.
- "Clover Over Dover", a seemingly cheery tune about suicide.
Thinking it over and over
But if I jump it's all over
- "London Loves", a dancey tune about how young people are only driven by materialistic wants and have no regard for anything but themselves.
- Money Is Not Power: "London Loves".London loves the mystery of a speeding car
London loves the misery of a speeding heart
- Motor Mouth: Damon turns into this during the chorus of "Girls & Boys".Looking for girls who are boys who like boys to be girls
who do girls like they're boys who do boys like they're girls
Always should be someone you really love
- Mundane Made Awesome: "This Is a Low", a sweeping, gorgeous, emotional, epic track based off of a weather forecast.
- Non-Appearing Title: "The Debt Collector", "Far Out", "Trouble in the Message Center", and "Lot 105".
- Obvious Beta: A rare music example in "Far Out". Compare the song that ended in the album against its demo and a remix that completes the album song. Chances are that you will prefer either the demo or the remix over the final track due to how they basically chopped half the song on its way to the album.
- Pac Man Fever: In "Jubilee", right after the lyric "So he just plays on his computer game" some beepy sound effects are played. Justified, though, as the song was released in 1994 when arcades were still common enough for listeners to get the reference.
- Scatting: The 'la la la's in the chorus of "Magic America." They can also be heard throughout "Trouble In The Message Center."
- Spoken Word in Music:
- Phil Daniels narrates the verses of "Parklife", which tells of an angry businessman's daily routine.
- The "...and the radio says" before each chorus of "This Is a Low".
- Step Up to the Microphone: Bassist Alex James sings "Far Out".
- Stock Sound Effects: A wolf whistle in "Tracy Jacks", when the titular character takes off all his clothes and runs around the seafront naked.
- Title Track: "Parklife".