Review : Graham Coxon - A+E
PitchforkThere was a time-- 1997-2001, to be precise-- when Graham Coxon was revered as the experimental weirdo in Blur: the media-shy, anti-pop provocateur who forced the most quintessentially British of Britpop bands to toss out their Jam and Kinks records and tune into the more dissonant frequencies of Pavement and Sonic Youth. But the outcome of Blur's initial early-00s dissolution tells a different story: While Coxon's foil/nemesis Damon Albarn has successfully transformed himself from NME pinup into a globe-trotting Afro-pop fusionist with a penchant for genre-blurring super-group collaborations, Coxon's output comes off as relatively conservative in comparison. With eight albums under his belt, Coxon's amassed a discography larger than Blur's, but whether he's indulging in Nick Drakean folk whimsy or Buzzcockian punk rave-ups, he's mostly stayed true to time- and MOJO-honored British musical traditions.
Rather than amass a body of work that charts a consistent artistic evolution, Coxon deals mostly in reactionary gestures. His previous outing, 2009's The Spinning Top, was a sprawling, psych-folk song cycle-- so you know A+E is going to be anything but. However, even by the standards of Coxon's previous punk-rock regression-therapy sessions (like 2004's "Freakin' Out" or 2006's "Don't Let Your Man Know"), A+E is aggressively dark and primitive, as if his old band's recent reunion stints inspired Coxon to reassert the mischievous contrarian character that made him the discerning Blur fan's favorite. If your list of all-time Blur jams includes "Bugman", "Bank Holiday", or "B.L.U.R.E.M.I.", step right up: opener "Advice" and "Running for Your Life" surge forth with similar proportions of buzzsaw-guitar bluster and sneeringly sardonic cultural commentary. ("Bah Singer" is another similarly fashioned in-the-red exercise and, while its lyrics are just a touch too distorted to decipher, the song assumes a far more playful tone if you imagine it's about Albarn.)...full text
GuardianIf Graham Coxon's last album, 2009's The Spinning Top, suggested that Blur's 43-year-old guitarist was ready to renounce rock and embrace middle age, its boisterous follow-up reaffirms his status as the oldest teenager in town. Gone are the ruminations on mortality and the elaborate, folky finger-picking; instead, as the boyish song titles indicate ("Ooh, Yeh Yeh", "Bah Singer", "Meet and Drink and Pollinate"), Coxon combines the spirit of early Blur with a hint of Joy Division and the pithiness of punk. Sophisticated it's not but, by and large, it's thrilling, the guitarist's zest for life evident throughout....full text
ScotsmanThe guitarist’s eighth solo record leaves Blur and Gorillaz sprawling in its dust, laying down the new template for modern rock music. His playing is primal, the riffs hewn out of steel hawsers, the lyrics acutely English: Running For Your Life is a car chase of a tune, with its talk of “not liking your Northampton shoes” and naked 40-something aggression.
The Truth is heavy enough to loosen Lars Ulrich’s fillings and make Lemmy’s falsers fall out. Coxon’s themes are of excess and pointlessness in his chosen profession, from the razor-slash chords of Advice to effervescent closer What’ll It Take, a tune with the chops to close the dance tent at T in the Park. “I’d write a new song while I was touring,” grumbles Coxon, “Man it was no fun, totally boring” – setting the tone for his positive disenchantment....full text
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