A daily bulletin of news & opinion

1 May 2015

MUSIC: Blur, The Magic Whip

“All kinds of different musical ideas going on at once – and because Damon Albarn in particular is such a genius he’s managed to weld it all together”

Will Hodgkinson, rock and pop critic, ‘The Times’

As one of the world's best-loved bands for the past 20 years, Blur don’t need to impress anyone at this stage of their career. But the only thing that’s ever made them exceptional is a constant appetite to push their aesthetic into new territory – no two albums are the same – and that expansive approach informs The Magic Whip: their first effort for 12 years. Recorded in Hong Kong, the album’s disparate patchwork of sounds touches on that consistent Blur theme: the melancholy found at the heart of many of our megalopolises. But it's also just a great pop record with the band’s trademark playful tone ever present – that certain magic – that's good to hear again.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Alexander Gronsky at The Wapping Project Bankside, London

“They’re like paintings – huge photographic prints – you walk in and they’re absolutely stunning; like windows onto a landscape view”

Sue Steward, photographic critic for ‘The Evening Standard’

Estonian photographer Alexander Gronsky has been depicting Russia and eastern Europe for the past decade. In his ironically titled book Pastoral, he captured seemingly peaceful scenes but from fairly unconventionally sedate environments such as industrial spaces. It’s that unusual perspective that is on show currently at London’s The Wapping Project Bankside. Head on down to see the lay of the land.

FILM: Far from the Madding Crowd

“Possibly confirmation of Thomas Vinterberg’s transformation from an enfant terrible into someone who is quite respectable”

David Jenkins, editor of ‘Little White Lies’

Thomas Hardy’s tragically tinged romantic tale that was masterfully put to film in the 1960s by John Schlesinger gets a remake from Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg – he of Dogme 95 fame. The new version with Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts assuming the roles of Bathsheba and Gabriel isn’t entirely without fault according to Little White Lies editor David Jenkins. But for classic weekend escapism replete with swooning star-crossed lovers, you won't do much better than to follow the crowd.

BOOK: The Happiness Industry by William Davies

“The wellbeing industry has been co-opted by big business and the state to get us to buy things”

Arifa Akbar, literary editor of ‘The Independent’

Goldsmiths college lecturer William Davies uses scientific data, commercial reports and studies into wellbeing and happiness to ascertain that a once innocent emotion is now being transformed into a marketing tool – and it is people who are paying the price. The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being is a fascinating yet slightly uncomfortable read that confirms a creeping suspicion you might have had already – that your shopping reciepts know you better than you know yourself.

TV: Daredevil

“If you’re expecting rocket launchers, laser guns and spidey-senses then you’re going to be disappointed – it’s a very dark, gritty version of the comic”

Alice Vincent, arts and entertainment writer for ‘The Telegraph’

The latest Marvel Comics title to find itself hurtling towards the small screen is Daredevil, the blind lawyer-by-day, crime fighter by night superhero who doesn’t let his impaired vision stop him keeping watch over New York. This new series from Netflix takes a distinctly more dark and grounded approach to the story than previous candy-coated versions, with top directors having been drafted in to add a dose of reality to this far-fetched tale. Whether that will result in a very real sense of ratings success remains to be seen.


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