I am just old enough to have experienced the fringes of the Brit Pop era; too young to have gotten in on the ground floor, but old enough to know about the likes of Blur and Pulp before they decided to reform. Graham Coxon, of course, is the long-time guitarist for Blur.
His latest record, A+E, is a further example of him crafting a career in not only the post-Blur world, but also the post-Blur revival world (Damon Albarn has recently suggested that Blur won’t be playing together past the Summer). Whilst Albarn has been working on his operas and Gorrilaz projects, and the other band members have been off delving into the worlds of cheese and political activism, Coxon hasn’t been sitting idly - A+E is his eighth solo record, and sees him in an experimental mood.
Coxon’s previous record, 2009’s The Spinning Top, was an undeniably folky album, full of serene, well crafted songs. A+E couldn’t be much further away in sound and style; it’s raucous and messy, but incredibly fun. It has a bit of an edge to it: scratchy guitars, cacophonous electronics, and almost punky vocals which all mesh together to create a record that is both confronting and engaging. Sonically, it’s very lo-fi, seemingly without any studio polish. But really, that seems to work more in its favour.
There is also quite a range of sounds that Coxon puts to work on the record. It’s not simply a frentic guitar driven album. There’s the ominous “City Hall” for example, which interweaves electronic drumbeats, ominous guitar work, and gloomy brass to create a track which is darkly atmospheric. There are few tracks that have become favourites of mine, one of which is the aforementioned “City Hall”, another is the raucous, punk-esque “Running For Your Life”, which features a fantastic recurring guitar riff, and some great lyrics - "We don’t like your accent or your Northampton shoes".
A+E is a fun record. It is raucous, lively, and has some great moments throughout. Whilst it’s not an album that will immediately ingratiate itself to listeners, it’s definitely worth a bit of perseverance.
Review Score: 8.0/10