Beyond British and sensationally sociological, Blur and singer/songwriter Damon Albarn weave tales of stifling middle class ennui into clever pop vignettes. THE GREAT ESCAPE is another demonstration of Blur's unique intelligence, more of Albarn's witty commentary, and substantial proof that the group may be bordering on genius. As usual, Albarn's senses are keen on THE GREAT ESCAPE. His ear for melody and sound textures shines throughout the album's fifteen brilliant tracks. The ska horns and spy soundtrack guitar riffing on "Fade Away" exemplify Blur's knack for pop music, yet elevate the song beyond simple genre-fication, with a dignity reserved for the orchestra pit. The snide humor behind "Mr. Robinson And His Quango" rubs shoulders with the desperation of "He Thought Of Cars", all the while dwelling on what they hope to escape. It's this nagging dread that carries the album--the sense that the people Albarn describes are as desperate to find meaning as Albarn is to capture it within the song's narrative. THE GREAT ESCAPE may not turn into Blur's great American breakthrough album, but if you're not thrown by Albarn's overwhelmingly British aesthetic, it just might be enough to take you away from the confines of your day to day doldrums.