Graham Coxon - Happiness in Magazines (Music CD)

Release Date: 30 July 2012
Artist: Graham Coxon
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It's suitably perverse that Graham Coxon released his first full-fledged pop album, Happiness in Magazines, in 2004, the year after his former bandmates in Blur tipped the scale in favor of the indie art rock he championed while he was in the band. Coxon always functioned as a passive-aggressive catalyst in the band, pushing songs forward and twisting them inside out with his thrilling, fluid guitar. He was raised on the same British punk and pop as his former collaborator Damon Albarn -- the same stack records by the Smiths, the Specials, and the Jam -- but he had an instinct to pursue a different path than prevailing pop culture, leading Albarn down the path to the Britpop of Parklife and the American-indie pastiche of Blur and 13. On the latter two, he began singing his own compositions, soon stretching out to a series of dogmatically lo-fi solo records before leaving the band during the sessions for their seventh album. Blur continued down the willfully messy indie path with Think Tank, obscuring their songs with meandering arrangements, but Coxon's own contrarian instincts set in when he cut his fifth solo album in 2003: he turned back to guitar pop. He reunited with Stephen Street, who produced Blur's best albums, but retained much of the rough-hewn, D.I.Y. feel of his solo projects for Happiness in Magazines, and the result is a wonderful fusion of ragged invention and sharp, tuneful songwriting. While the basic sound of the record isn't quite a surprise -- since Coxon still plays the bulk of the instruments, it does sound like a homemade record, but the songwriting recalls vintage Blur, so it does sound familiar -- what is a shock is that Coxon has the confidence and will to not hide behind the noise and obscurist tendencies that made his previous solo efforts a bit laborious. Here, his emotions are pushed to the surface and they're married to catchy, memorable songs that are delivered in an immediate, imaginative fashion. This return to guitar pop doesn't feel like a retreat, it feels like a warm acceptance of Coxon's strengths, particularly because he hasn't completely abandoned the guitar squalls and unpolished production of his other four efforts. And that's why Happiness in Magazines feels like Coxon's first true solo album -- it's the first to present a complex, robust portrait of him as an artist, and the first that holds its own next to what he accomplished in Blur. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Release Date: 30 July 2012
Artist: Graham Coxon

1. Spectacular
2. No Good Time
3. Girl Done Gone
4. Bittersweet Bundle of Misery
5. All Over Me
6. Freakin' Out
7. People of the Earth
8. Hopeless Friend
9. Are You Ready?
10. Bottom Bunk
11. Don't Be a Stranger
12. Ribbons and Leaves

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Catalogue No: 6332432