As a fan of both blur and graham coxon's solo work, i did think that his first two solo outings showed glimpses of brilliance but were more incomplete sketches rather than completely satisfying works. with this album he's totally redeemed himself. rarely does an artist express with such honesty and clarity his emotions and musical passions. i absolutely adore this album and it hasn't been off the stereo since i bought it. it's not glossy and it's not corporate. what it is, is genuinely beautiful and moving, rough and ready. if you have even the merest drop of lo fi blood in your veins this is an absolute must have. it's that rarity - marvellous.
I find it hard to believe that people have slagged this album off. OK it's not perfect, but it is miles ahead better than Graham's previous two albums. Perhaps his work is an aquired taste but I truly think this is his most accesible, tuneful, heartfelt and fundamentally good album yet. Some of his best work definitley. Fans of Syd Barrett, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen should find plenty to enjoy here as should fans of the US Underground rock Graham has long favoured. His heart is on his sleeve and he's painting a beautiful scene.
Having heard mixed reviews of Graham's solo work, I decided to give this album a go, as many have said "if you liked 13, you'll like this". I can safely say that this is better than 13, and probably about on par with Blur's album "Blur". Whilst "Empty Word" is the best track on this album, I can't help feeling it should have been placed in the middle of the album. To open with such a great track usually means the rest of the album isn't up to much (see Reef's album "Getaway"). Fortunately, Graham manages on several occasions to get close to the quality of the opener. "Burn it Down" and "You Never Will Be" are both not far off, and whilst just about everything else could be described as "album tracks" in comparison, most could stand up as a single. Many of the middle tracks will only appeal to fans of the two most recent Blur albums, and like 13, the best four tracks are at the start of this album. However, unlike 13, there aren't any dull droning noise tracks (see "Caramel" and "Trailerpark"), and the album as a whole fits together perfectly. My only problem with this album is the test card like sound at the end of the album. Other than that, this is brilliant stuff, and without doubt one of the top five albums this year.
Graham Coxon has long been given the credit for the musical reinvention of blur, that helped the group regain credibility in 1997, and rightly so. His own personal taste in more lo-fi american rock helped to group to produce more experiemtal and varied sound, that has lead them on to produce much of their best material. Grahams first solo album, in contrast, was a mostly unsuccessful effort, dragged down by a number of unexciting folk songs, but partially saved by a couple of good tunes (I Wish & Who The F***). His second album 'The Golden D' was a massive improvement, and showed that Graham could be considered a talented and varied song-writer/musician, without the aid of blur. However, with his 3rd solo album Graham has stepped back towards his earlier effort, and once again confused lo-fi with tuneless. Again we are given a mostly folk collection, of aimless tunes, and strange but unexciting chord changes, that does little to excite, and much to annoy. Only 4 songs manage to leave much of an impression (Burn It Down, Bonfires, Thank God For The Rain & You Never Will Be) which earn this album its 2 stars, but on the evidence of Grahams last album 'The Golden D', this is a major step backwards.