BLUR - ESSEX DOGS

People act like Everyday Robots was when Damon Alban finally opened up and made a personal record. People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis. You can't trust people.

Despite the fact that there are traces of Alban in every record that preceded Blur, it was that album which brought about the band's biggest change in songwriting since Leisure gave way to Modern Life is Rubbish. No more so is this obvious than on 'Essex Dogs,' the paranoid, sprawling gateway to 13.

Much as he would on 'Hollow Ponds' from his solo album, Alban digs into his memory to make sense of his relationship with his surroundings. "I remember thinking murder in the car... in this town the English army grind their teeth into glass... you know you'll get a kicking tonight."

The rest of the band is totally in sync, too. Graham Coxon's guitar drills into each syllable, echoing Albarn's "here comes that panic attack, " while Alex James and Dave Rowntree create a loping groove that keeps the tension at breaking point. No more, no less.