I always thought Blur got more interesting towards the end of their time. While their hits proved them the smart alecs of the mid-Britpop era, the albums took a turn for the better with 1997's fifth self-titled album and 1999's 13.
Even the 2003 band-falls-part last hurrah of Think Tank was something of an arty triumph, having arrived after the departure of guitarist Graham Coxon and the return of Damon Albarn back from having accidentally stormed the charts with his side project Gorillaz.
Since then, Coxon has put out a regular string of solo albums to what must be a very devoted following while Albarn's musical wanderlust has kept him moving from supergroups to adventures in Mali to last year's solo album Everyday Robots, probably his least interesting post-Blur effort.
But here the original four are back together having played reunion shows since 2009.
The origins of Magic Whip should amuse long-time fans miffed at their 2014 Auckland Big Day Out no-show - they headed into a Hong Kong studio in 2013 to kill time after a festival cancellation.
Eventually, spearheaded by guitarist Coxon and long-time producer Stephen Street, those sketches became the 12 songs here.
They've also become a fine Blur album. One which is even further away from Britpop than its predecessors, but still sounds decidedly like the English blokes raised on a diet of Kinks, XTC and Bowie playing away from home.
There are riffs that will bring cheer to the fans of Song 2 Blur; a singalong chorus or two (especially on Ong Ong) that will induce smiles in those who think it was all downhill after Girls and Boys.
Watch the music video for Go Out by Blur:
There are ballads that remind that they always did have a way with a slow tempo and a big tune and oddball touches (some decidedly Asian without falling into cliche) that should satisfy those who liked their experimental urges.
There's evidence that Coxon is enjoying his return to the fold, his scratchy guitar making Go Out sound like a thrilling salute to post- punk funkers Gang of Four, and later scorching over the top of Broadcast's electropop.
It's maybe a little too heavy on the downtempo numbers to make it immediately engaging. But whether it's the slow throb of Pyongyang, inspired by a visit to the North Korean capital or Ghost Ship (imagine a reggaefied Long Hot Summer set in a Kowloon monsoon season), it delivers disarming atmospheres aplenty, heightened by Albarn's lyrics about being strangers in a strange land ... in an old band.
Album: Magic Whip
Verdict: Britpop vets' respectable return