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Album Review: graham coxon A and E

2 April 2012 | 7:40 pm | Staff Writer

A + E is Graham Coxon shot out of a cannon: loud and brash, revelling in angsty noise.

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A + E is Graham Coxon shot out of a cannon: loud and brash, revelling in angsty noise. Yet as quickly as it soars, it lands flat. The record continues in Coxon's solo style that, for the uninitiated, is essentially Blur circa 1997, with more fuzz and less melody. In his recently reignited day job as the Britpop band's guitarist and occasional singer/songwriter, his passion for '90s slacker fuzz-pop had clearly been stifled, and the explosion witnessed on this record has great heart but lacks the all important, indescribable hooks that would have listeners glued to their speakers.

The record works best when it avoids dipping into synthetic instrumentation, like the syncopated drum machine on City Hall, which jars and overwhelms the subtle noodling going on during the bridge. Similarly, Coxon gives his voice a vocoder makeover on Meet+Drink+Pollinate that is embarrassingly amateur. By contrast the opener, Advice packs the best of Coxon's guitar and vocal skills in under three minutes. The menacing aggression of The Truth is gripping, with Coxon's vocals sounding miles away yet charismatically upfront. The real gem is Running For Your Life, switching between wails and a sardonic tone as he repeatedly says, “We don't like your haircut or your attitude.”

Coxon works best within simplicity; take for example his expert craftsmanship on Pete Doherty's 2009 record, Grace/Wastelands. For the man who causes thousands of grown men to cry out his lyrics of “Oh my baby…” during Blur's live renditions of Tender, this is a disappointing misstep that in its bare bones possessed great potential.