34. Blur, Parklife (Food/SBK, 1994)

Apart from the "woo-hoo!" extreme sports anthem "Song 2", Blur never crossed over in the USA, not because they were too inherently British but because they were just too clever. Brainy pop, from XTC to the New Pornographers rarely moves the masses here. Unlike the rest of this combo's more homogeneous efforts, Parklife's all over the place stylistically, shrewdly chewing up, spitting out, and recontextualizing brilliant Brit bands of yore (The Kinks, The Jam, and Madness, much more so than The Beatles) without ever sounding uninspired or derivative like their silly one-time rivals Oasis. Yet, it dexterously holds together, indulging in cheeky wordplay (such as the Pet Shop Boys-worthy chorus on "Girls and Boys") over a mutation of genres (glam, punk, synth-pop, music hall, new wave). Fortunately, they also balance a healthy dose of skepticism with a little affection for their suburban middle class roots.