Graham Coxon has never been an obvious name that would crop up in a music fan's collection, nor has he been relatively high up on the recognisable stars list. Maybe this is due to his departure from brit-pop titans Blur.
Happiness In Magazines, Coxon's fifth release, is a bold step into the mainstream. Reverting back to a sound that Coxon clearly was trying to avoid after leaving Blur, Graham's talents finally come seeping through on here. His guitar skills have never been question, the music is fantastic and the solos often feel improvised.
His songwriting abilities have risen also here, with themes that beat Blur's Think Tank out of the water. From his open letter to the UK on People of the Earth with the tag line "People of the earth you have failed, you still worship The Sun and The Daily Mail", or his take on the clubland scene on No Good Time. His love songs are also top notch with Spectacular sporting a bold progressive riff with attitude to boot and Bittersweet Bundle of Misery recalling Blur's Coffee & TV, but touched up for the new millenium.
Of course, this review can't go on without mentioning the song Freakin' Out. Possibly Coxon's best song ever recorded, this is the Brit-Pop anthem that was never recorded in its heyday. With a insanely catchy riff, a massive singalong chorus, an outrageous solo and snotty vocals, Freakin' Out is the anthem for the UK.
To close up, its a question of whether Coxon has benefited from his departure from his former bandmates, and the answer is most definately yes. Whilst Albarn has resorted to singing for cartoon band Gorillaz, Blur has gone into obscurity.
As Coxon states in Don't Be A Stranger, he's "a big rock dog eating indie frog". Your turn Damon. Find Happiness in this record.