Blur is the most intelligent of the current crop of British bands; where imports like Bush or Oasis proffer that bottom-heavy rock the kids like these days, Blur’s singer-songwriter, Damon Albarn, places himself firmly in the tradition of social-pop tunesmiths like the Kinks’ Ray Davies. Albarn’s efficient mimicry of pop styles and ready ability to adopt the pose of a British eccentric give the music depth and have earned him a lot of critical respect at home; for just those reasons, it’s not hard to see why Blur’s been greeted with little more than yawns from the non-Anglophile community stateside. The band’s touring on the new The Great Escape. Openers Whale had a hit some time ago with a Red Hot Chili Peppers-ish song and video called “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe.” It had all the hallmarks of a one-hit wonder, and indeed the song soon faded. Bye-bye Whale. Now here they are more than a year later with an actual album, and damned if they aren’t a pretty good trip-hop band. In hindsight you can hear what’s coming in the groovy verses of their hit; but even those didn’t warn of the pop smarts and melodic tricks the band marshals on the best tracks of We Care. A couple of these, perhaps significantly, are produced by trip-hop master Tricky, particularly the impressively catchy “Kickin’.” This is the band’s first Chicago appearance. Tuesday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Steve Pike, Eddie Monsoon.