Graham Coxon: Happiness in Magazines

Since, in his typically understated style, bespectacled
guitarist Graham Coxon walked out on Blur, there has been a
year-long holding of breath to see what he would do next. His four previous solo albums, all recorded whilst with the
band, have been deliberately obscure and lo-fi, almost as an
allergic reaction to Blur’s commercialism. Free from the
chart-topping shackles, Happiness in Magazines is the sound of a
man finally having some fun, (and yes, it is a much more fun
listen than Think Tank) and it’s an absolute gem. Album opener ‘Spectacular’ immediately blows away
any notion of further lo-fi noodling with a blasting guitar riff
that Queens of the Stone Age would be proud of, but Happiness in
Magazines is about more than turning the amps up louder.
‘Are You Ready’ is a bittersweet love song that messes
around with the chiming guitars of Ennio Morricone’s Western
soundtracks to delicious effect and ‘Bittersweet Bundle of
Misery’ could be the twisted cousin of ‘Coffee and
TV’. The standout is, rather predictably, the ace
‘Freakin’ Out’, which charted earlier this year
despite a seven-inch only release. The one stumbling block is perhaps Graham’s voice. It
remains as reedy and weedy as ever, giving the impression of the
love-lorn loser that this critic suspects he rather likes to play
up to. Whether it continues to affect or begins to grate is a
matter of personal taste, but this is only a minor quibble over a
largely impressive album. Over to you, Damon.ARCHIVE: 3rd week TT 2004