Two years ago, as Blur's "Song 2" exploded on American radio and began turning up in numerous commercials, the band seemed poised for crossover Brit-rock stardom. However, a funny thing happened on the way to a follow up.The band chose to follow up the inroads made by the catchy "woo-hoo" chorus of 1997's "Song 2" with the darkly emotional swing of the band's new single "Tender," the first single from "13." The track matches frontman Damon Albarn's lovelorn lyrics with a gospel choir and gives a good indication of what awaits listeners on "13," the band's sixth album and first produced by Madonna's own muse, William Orbit. Albarn (said to be hurting over his breakup with longtime girlfriend Justine Frischmann of Elastica) told MTV Europe that "13" was not an easy record for Blur to make. "Initially, this record wasn't easy for anyone to really be totally confident about what was going on, because it just didn't work in that way, you know,"
Albarn said of the record. "It was all very spontaneous and of the moment, and everything was put on tape really quickly and then we moved on to something else and by the point where we'd sort of got enough on tape to start working on the first thing that we'd put on tape, I think we all sort of, it all became a bit hazy about what we'd done initially." [28.8 RealVideo]Blur will kick off a brief North American promotional tour next week with gigs in New York on March 30, Los Angeles on April 1 and Montreal on April 2.