I remember the very first time I ever heard a Blur song. Once it had finished, I hoped to never hear it again. It was Parklife. Back then, I was without any doubt at all, a stupid kid. Oasis blasting out of tinny headphones, wearing chinos and horribly plain t-shirts, hair matted down in a disgracefully drab approach to unfashionable. What a horrible life that was, and although I’ve not gotten any smarter, I like to believe my music taste has improved from the “whatever was on Guitar Hero/on the radio in my Dad’s car” to “out of fashion 90s pop” and “whatever Cocker, Costello or Byrne churns out”. No Distance Left to Run piqued my interest rather rapidly in the forty minutes after I had first heard of it, a documentary looking to cover the lifespan of Blur, from beginning to end and the inevitable reunion.
The big four of Britpop all received their own documentaries, and out of the ones I have seen, No Distance Left to Run is definitely the most heavily laden with information. Most of the information on hand is rather touch and go. We skim across the relative success of Parklife, but dive into the success of Country House. Detailing Blur vs. Oasis about as well as it can, it retreads territory any fan of either group will be well aware of. I find myself in the strangely mismatched camp of being aware of this phenomenon, but not really caring. I’d fallen to the sway of Pulp, Suede, Elastica and The Charlatans before I’d even gotten around to giving Blur a proper go, and I’d already discarded Oasis like the damp rag it was and always will be.
Most of the information is already known to even the most passing fan. Most will be inundated with Albarn’s work in Gorillaz, and from there the accidental information of Blur will most likely have poured into their brains. No Distance Left to Run doesn’t give us a headline of new information, rather it presents us with old facts and urban legends solidified or thrown out by members of the band.
Touching upon the somewhat private hell Albarn was heading through in the mid 1990s, it’s all very well and interesting until Alex James opens his mouth. Prophetic wisdom from the mouth of a man who seems to be looking at the legacy of Blur with starry eyed wishful thinking. Quips from “Damon invented the term Britpop” to “Damon was the king of Britpop” and you begin to wonder when the bootlicking will end. Still, at least Graham and Dave are on hand to provide us with some relatively interesting anecdotes. Deep diving into the personal life of Graham is disgustingly interesting, especially the post-Great Escape period which saw his discontent with the musical output rise to an all-time high.
Reflective at thankfully the right times, but never comes through on its full potential of condensing decades of history into a tight and engaging documentary. The young blood of Britpop is now older and somewhat wiser, their musings on that period of history are frankly negative, as if they were embarrassed of this period of their life. The more you watch of No Distance Left to Run or Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets or even the dreadfully poor Live Forever, the more you realise that Britpop isn’t the glitzy glam you’d look back on, but more of a depressingly bloodthirsty time that produced fantastic music. No Distance Left to Run seems quite the apt title, Blur have nothing more to prove to its audiences, and this documentary holds a flimsy, dim light to that idea.