Producer Stephen Street, the man who had a hand in the first five Blur albums, has...
Ian Wade 2002
Indie guitarist solo albums are a rare thing. Seldom much cop, and often overlooked by journalists who are only interested in their previous incarnation and who have probably already sold their copy of the album.
Stone Roser John Squire, ex-Smith Johnny Marr and still-Radiohead Jonny Greenwood are worthy of your attention. Greenwood's Bodysong soundtrack is a particularly good listen, maybe because he didn't sing on it. But, in a field of few, Graham Coxon's solo catalogue towers above them.
Having released three albums prior to leaving Blur, this is Coxon's second release since going permanently solo. Though not without a few charms, it's fair to say his previous solo efforts only appealed to the most hardcore of Blur fans. His music swings schizophrenically from crackly folk odes recorded in a bucket to shouty bluegrass metal which sounds like it was recorded in a shed. Happiness In Magazines, however, is something of a relief.
On the funky blues of "Hopeless Friend" and "Bottom Bunk" he sounds like your funny best mate. Other highlights include the punkin' buzz of opener "Spectacular" and the equally glorious radio-rawk of "Freakin' Out". While the cinematic "Are You Ready" sounds like The Shadows feat. Ennio Morricone and is a thing of genuine beauty.
Nearly every tune is milkman-friendly hummable. The only exception being the daft comically angry hectoring of "People Of The Earth" which harks back to his solo past. A bit of a pop genius on the sly, Coxon claims that the songs pleaded with him to be recorded properly this time, and he's done them proud. Producer Stephen Street, the man who had a hand in the first five Blur albums, has done wonders here, reflecting a more upbeat and happier Coxon, making this a joy to listen to.
Whatever his real reasons for leaving Blur, on Happiness In Magazines, Coxon has shown he most certainly doesn't ever need to go back.