12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2004
Not having heard any of Grahams previous solo offerings, i bought this album on the strength of positive reviews both in the NME and on Amazon.
On first listen the first 3 songs were good, but not great. From track 4 onwards, though, it just gets better and better...and better.
There are some real classic songs on this album, and i'm blown away at the quality of the writing and guitar work. This has got to be a contender for album of the year.
Standout tracks for me are; All over me, Freakin' out, Are you ready ?, Don't be a stranger, and the sublime Ribbons & Leaves.
This album will surely deliver Graham from the shadow of Blur, and put to the rest those calls for his return to Damon & co. If he can make music this brilliant on his own, why should he ?
Don't delay, buy today...sit back and enjoy.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2004
Graham Coxon's fifth solo release, (his second since leaving Blur) reflects his capabilities as an adept songwriter as well as guitarist. Lyrically, Coxon paints a variety of pictures; a disillusioned onlooker passing comment on the world from outer space (the vitriolic rant of 'People of the Earth') and 'Spectacular's' homage to an Internet fantasy. Strangely, the following track 'No good time' sounds very Pete Townshend- esque, but I'm not one for making cheap links.
Graham's latest single, 'Bitter-sweet Bundle Of Misery' is, for all intensive purposes, 'Coffee and TV' Mark II. Whilst the chorus could be written by any love struck teenager- "You're beautiful/ I love to watch your face in the morning light/ You're really cool/ I like the way we fight/ right through the night", its beauty is in its simplicity. 'Freakin' Out', by far and away one of the year's best singles, is pure pop-punk with riffage to tempt even the most self-conscious into air guitar. Though it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Skids 1978 anthem 'Into the Valley', it still sounds fresher in 2004 than most of this year's releases.
Elsewhere, the emphatically maudlin 'Are You Ready' bears all the tremolo-laden hallmarks of THAT Urge Overkill song; with Coxon's soft estuary drawl working surprisingly well over a bed of Bond-style orchestration and Spanish guitar. 'Bottom Bunk', an ode to an imploded sex life, could easily fit onto Parklife, whilst with 'Don't Be A Stranger', Coxon rewards his psychiatrist with one of the catchiest tunes on the album.
'Happiness...' demonstrates Coxon's 70s punk influences and there is much scope for the kind of axe-wielding that Damon Albarn would surely have clamped down upon in the past. Then again, this is not a Blur record, and that is not, it is fair to say, necessarily a bad thing.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2006
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2004
You would not believe how incredibly difficult it is to try and avoid the obvious connections to Blur whilst reviewing this album. Coxon is really rather keen to put his past behind him but unfortunately his sound is so similar to that of his former band that it is amazingly tricky to avoid it. But Graham, I shall try my hardest.
Coxon's previous solo album releases have been somewhat bitty and hard to listen to at times. They have failed to live up to their expectations, not so much the earlier ones, and have sounded rather unfinished. But on this new release, his creative talents have really shone through. He has discovered a much rockier sound that the likes of Ben Kweller and Ryan Adams could only long to achieve. You have all probably heard the belting "Freakin' Out" already and that is possibly the best track on the album, but it does by no means outshine the rest of the tracks. The pounding opener of "Spectacular" provides a classic Brit Rock feel with a pounding bass line and a sharp, jumpy vocal that would not go a miss on anything that Oasis produced in their early days. "Girl Done Good" shows Coxon's experimental side coming out with a beautiful, White Stripes-esque, folk ballad that is probably the most unique track on the LP. "Bittersweet..." provides catchy riffs, "All Over Me" is a ballad that anyone would be proud to call their own, "People of the Earth"'s powerful message is something to seriously consider (People of the earth/You do not rock/You're nothing but a dirty frock) and "Hopeless Friend" with its 60s feel is a great dance along tune.
To be honest there are only a couple of disappointing tracks on the album that come nearer the end of the listing, "Bottom Bunk" and "Are You Ready". They are not bad at all but they lack in the originality that really make the rest of the tracks on the album come alive and provide something fresh. They do not detract from the album's beauty though and are only a small blemish on a wonderfully put together and intrguing album that is surely going to get an qually great reception from the rest of the media. Coxon has finally made his stamp on British music, and about bloody time!
(Review is also available at [...]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2006
This is an album that marks Coxon's arrival as an established solo artist. The big song from this album has to be Freakin' Out, however there is so much more to this ablbum. Bitter-sweet bundle of Misery and Are You Ready? are finely crafted tracks that deserve more recognition than they currently get.
This album offers the listener an elcectic mix of styles, but unlike the randomness that his earlier albums suffered from, this is a strong, cohesive structure.
I found the album difficult to listen to at first but it takes a few listens to get in to. I found that I really began to love this four or five months after I bought it.
Miss is at you peril!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2004
This is more like a coherant Syd Barrett meets the Skids.
Not one duff track. Great Guitar, great lyrics with superb delivery
Real music! Buy it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2005
go graham! some iffy parts i must admit ("bittersweet bundle of misery" get to me after a while and "girl done gone" lacked something, can't quite put my finger on it) but smoothed over with the greatness of "freakin' out" and i really enjoyed "ribbons and leaves". blur, news for you - you lost one AMAZING guitarist. graham, pat yourself on the back. this is how to win people over. reformed ex alcoholic now doing good, even winning the nme solo artist of the year 2005!
this album really is one of the albums of 2004. forget franz, libertines and all those people in the spotlight. broaden horizons a little, look a little closer to home in humble camden and invest in graham
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2004
So what should we expect now from Graham Coxon now that he has left Blur and is now free to concentrate on his solo work? The answer is a scorcher of an album.
From the first track 'Spectacular' you can tell that Graham Coxons lo-fi days are well behind him.
The rocky guitar and pounding drums make a great start to the album, which leads well into the next song 'No Good Time'. This song is similar and shows Grahams a great songwriter, and has a class guitar solo towards the end, this song really gets stuck in your head, but in a good way.
Next is Girl Done Gone, which is more 'classic Coxon', an understated bluesy song with lazy lyrics, it's OK but not great. 'All Over Me' is track 4 and is another slow number this time with strings, Graham's vocals are at their best here.
'Bittersweet Bundle of Misery' sounds so similar to 'Coffee and TV'(Blur-written by Coxon, appears on the album 13) its uncanny, but this songs lyrics are slightly forced and arent that great and are slightly annoying, its not one of the best song on the album.
Next is the first single from this album 'Freakin' Out'. This song is really a classic and the single unusually for Graham had relative chart success. It a real rocker and the guitar is so cool. Lyrics are delivered in a snarly-sort-of-way and this song shows what the new 'proper rock band' should be doing.
'People Of The Earth' and 'Hopeless Friend' keep the album rolling along nicely and are reminiscent of the earlier Blur days. Top quality again then!! The lyrics of 'People of The Earth' is so funny and is agin punk-rock in its sound and hostile message.
'Are You Ready' is next and is possibly the weakest track on the album, although there is some nice sound effects and guitars which paint the picture of nice western cowboy situation. The lyrics are laid back but I don't think they really work with the music. Another slower song is next 'Bottom Bunk'. It ticks along nicely but is by no means a standout.
'Don't Be A Stranger' most defiantly is with the title of the song repeated to great effect. The punchy guitar and then the toy-keyboard sound contrast interestingly, then the feedback kicks in and you realise that the album is near to finishing.
The closer to the album is amazing. 'Ribbons and Leaves' with the slow with piano, and resigned, submissive delivery of the lyrics from Graham adds to the emotion of the song. This is without doubt the best of the slower songs on happiness in Magazines.
The album moves well between genres, and merges them as well as anyone has in recent years. The future looks bright now for Graham and this new direction of more catchy but still interesting songs is working well so far.
(this review is based on the promo-CD)
on 13 March 2013
First things - one of my favourite albums of all time, and certainly one of the most complete pieces of work I've ever heard.
Bought back at release on the strength of Freakin Out alone, I hadn't heard any other tracks, and didn't really know much about Graham apart from his obvious ex-place in one of Britain's best bands.
The funny thing is, dare I say it, Happiness in Magazines is in my humble opinion better than any Blur album, and has so many standout moments of eclectically different sounds.
Coxon successfully fuses post-punk, blues, pop and ballad with beautifully bitter-sweet lyrics varying from the heartfelt Ribbons and Leaves to the all out shouty wackiness of People Of The World. Freakin Out actually ends up being a rather simple (albeit great) riff based rocker amongst a much more varied & soulful collection of songs.
As daring as this may sound, Coxon somehow pulls is off in spectacular style. As is his so genuine no-nonsense standpoint on music, it's easy to tune in to his lack of pretense and just enjoy the ride.
There isn't really a weak spot on the album, as every track brings something different with lyrics and hooks that stick in your head all day. An amazing sing along in the car album, the quickest 45 minutes of music ever, and after all this time it just gets better and better.
In essence probably one of the most underrated and under the radar albums of the last decade.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2004
Seemingly from nowhere, GC has pulled an absolute masterstroke. Gone is the enjoyable ramshackle lilt of previous albums, replaced by some of the best 'blur' songs since 'Modern Life is Rubbish' and 'Park Life'. The album storms into action with 'spectacular', where Graham out Albarns his mate to spectacular success. Things don't let up till the final track, the only average song on the album. 2004 Mercury prise winner? Quite possibly