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Graham Coxon - A + E

The sometime Blur guitarist checks in for his latest solo project. Is there life in that guitar still, or should we call for the crash cart?

Sunday, 14. April 2013  -  by  Russ Thorne
Photo Credits - XoxoHell

You can tell from the chirpy cockney 'Ello? Ello!', which slams shut opening track 'Advice', that Coxon is on buoyant, confident form. That's if the maddeningly catchy we-recorded-this-in-two-minutes-in-a-dumpster vibe of the track hadn't already convinced you.

Maybe the accolades and nostalgic love heaped on his other band, Blur, have helped the erratic guitarist find some liberation. Maybe it's an age thing. He's not sure himself, as 'What'll it take' suggests, but there's not a trace of self consciousness here: “I don't really know what's wrong with me!” he whoops carelessly over wibbly synths and his trademark frenetic strumming. He's not making cheese like Alex or scoring Hungarian witch operas (or whatever Damon is up to), he's making a gleeful scuzzy clatter (in his bedroom from the sounds of it) and he couldn't give two hoots.

Which is why this is such a refreshing listen. Coxon's solo work has been unpredictable at times, but that's actually the great strength of this record. It's melodic and discordant at once, impenetrable on one level and sublimely poppy on another. You get his attacking, jangly hooks and scratchy style – as if he's having a fist fight with his guitar and only just winning – mixed with some well thought out jazzy horns and weird bleepings that stagger in from nowhere.

Like an entertaining drunk A + E lurches from place to place but somehow manages to stay upright and remains consistently fun even in the murk of more introspective tracks like 'The Truth'. It's a fine rehabilitation for jaded ears, in fact. What'll it take to make you people move? This, Graham, this.

Buy if: you're going to dash your brains out if you hear one more autotuned track on the radio

Avoid if: you're over the whole 'eccentric British guitar hero' thing

Best track: the sneery irony of 'Meet and Drink and Pollinate'

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