Blur insist their new album is their best yet and should ''surely'' outsell Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran.

The Britpop group - made up of vocalist Damon Albarn, guitarist and vocalist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree - announced their first studio album, 'The Magic Whip', in 12 years yesterday (19.02.15) and insist they wouldn't have released a record if they didn't think it was good enough for today's charts.

Damon said: ''Surely acts like Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran can't possibly sell as many records as us this late into their records' lives, can they?

''Our album is a decent record and we really wouldn't be putting it out after such a long hiatus and stuck our necks out if we didn't believe in it.

''It has to be one of our best records, if not our best record.''

The group started to record their new album in Hong Kong in 2013 after gigs were cancelled and they enjoyed having the creative freedom they used to have when they started out in the music industry, but Damon admitted he was ''nervous'' to hear the record for the first time.

Graham said: ''We threw everything at it in five days in Hong Kong, so there was a lot.

''But it was like the early recordings, when we were left alone and had no one breathing down our necks. We could just be creative. Every stage was really nerve-racking though.''

Damon added to The Sun newspaper: ''The most important thing is that the stuff we recorded in Hong Kong was magical.

''Graham came and said, 'I'd like to take this recording and knock it into shape'. It was a nervous moment when he played it to me.

''I thought, 'Oh s**t!' because it was really good and this sort of thing doesn't happen very often in life, so I couldn't really say no. As soon as I got the bit between my teeth I was back.''

Blur were also pleased they managed to keep their album comeback a secret, and Damon was particularly proud that Gorillaz artist Jamie Hewlett didn't have a clue.

He explained: ''It's so hard to keep anything quiet these days but nobody snitched. The best bit was when Jamie started posting new pictures of Gorillaz and he didn't know either!''

During yesterday's album announcement, Damon admitted the group can't wait to try out some of their new tracks from 'The Magic Whip' - which is released on April 27 - when they headline a British Summer Time gig at London's Hyde Park later this year.

The London-born singer said: ''On this occasion we will have a whole new set of things to get excited about so we'll have even more music.

''I love it [playing in Hyde Park] because I can cycle to work!''