Sound: It's been a long time since that scandal with Blur's Country House video and their guitarist Graham Coxon, who, as it turned out, knew what this would lead to better than anyone. Since then he managed to release three quite successful solo albums. The last one Love Travels At Illegal Speeds was out November 14th on Parlophone.
After producing his previous record Happiness In Magazines teamed up with the producer Stephen Street, Coxon seemed to like the collaboration, admitting working with Street is very easy (which is a very important factor when you has such a complicated artistic nature). As a result, Love Travels At Illegal Speeds was distrusted to Street completely.
Recording the album, Coxon wanted to make it as a follow-up to Happiness In Magazines. In fact it is more or less a continuation, Coxon as well kept in mind music of his childhood (late '70s). This time he takes a more lightweight approach, going for some punk sound. Known for his guitar genius, Coxon bases the songs on stellar riffs and hooky power chords, throwing in some simple guitar solos in the middle. No multi-layered guitars or beautiful flourishes here though, everything is quite strict.
The album opens with shark guitars of the first single Standing On My Own Again. They are later joined by pounding and trashing drums. See A Better Day reminds you of who's the greatest band of UK of all times. The Beatles have been inspiring thousands of bands over ages and Graham Coxon is not an exception.
Though the songs are quite different as in sound and in subjects, the album overall makes quite a happy impression thanx to its joyful choruses. They have that pop ingredient more than anything else, being always catchy. // 7
Lyrics: Coxon claims the album is about love, but he's got a weird way expressing his feelings. The songs are realistic, but always optimistic wherever the story takes you. Like What's He's Got? -- the song about the offence with his girlfriend. Unlike million other aggressive, moaning and whining songs on the similar subject, this one turns the tragedy into something to laugh at. Singing Gimme Some Love he's not politely asking for that, he's more giving an order.
He sings faster upbeat songs expressively and he doesn't mind to yell if needed. When it comes to slower ones, he turns to milder delicate vocals. His voice in See A Better Day doesn't sound like Graham Coxon. As well as the music sounds like The Beatles, the vocals sound more like Paul McCartney. Well, not the worst vocals to imitate! // 7
Overall Impression: After quite moderate success of his 2004's Happiness In Magazines, Coxon seems to learn the lesson and his current attempt Love Travels at Illegal Speeds has much more chances for listeners' sympathy. There's nothing revolutionary in the music to attract new fans, though it will likely appear as a good follow-up of his works for to those already acquaintance with his music. As well as his previous albums, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds has one of his weird painting on the CD cover.
Talking about Coxon solo project you can't avoid comparing it to his former bandmate's music business (yes, I'm talking about Gorillaz and Damon Albarn). Unlike Albarn with his innovative ideas and huge popularity, conservative Coxon stayed true to Blur's original sound getting less attention, but keeping something for the army of Blur's fans. // 7
- Kosh (c) 2006