The past is an ornament of the
present says the aging wise man. What if the past melts with the present says
the sarcastic passer by? I believe the mantelpiece is furnished then. Anyway,
this is not a cheering start to write a quick review about another good album by
neo-former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. Letís go back to my stupid self.
I have always been an absolute fan of Blur, except for Boys and Girls & co, but it seems that my passion has cooled off recently. I have been passively waiting for the split up since the band released a greatest hits and transferred my passion to Graham Coxon exclusively. Coxon who had sung a single for the first time in the story of the band - Coffee and TV on 13 - has been progressively gaining independence as a solo artist in the last few years and since Gorillaz sucks... The leadership of Damon Albarn within the band has overwhelmed Coxon during the past decade but he nonetheless had moods, riffs, bits and pieces of songs in his mind that he could not reasonably integrate in Blurís music, I suppose. He released 3 albums between 1998 and 2001 - The sky is too high, The golden D, Crow sit on a blood tree - just like a legitimate lo-fi side project freed of Blurís pop yoke. Even if the second one is a failed attempt at mimicking state punk rock and has nothing much to do with the rest, he has developed an idiosyncratic musical identity certainly made out of his listenings. His identity is not connected with England at all but is deeply rooted in American folk / blues / country / rock / lo-fi / indie tradition. He reminds me of Beckís One foot in the grave when he plays approximate acoustic detuned ballads for example.
The Kiss of Morning appeals to me and it is awkward to explain why. I am a passive listener when I am tired and in the cold twilight zone between 2 am and 3 am I can never go upstairs to tell my neighbor I donít want to crawl further down in depression listening to him practicing accordion. Bitter Tears beautifully opens the album and challenges the classical pop song format with its repetitive introductory part. Escape Song has an electric sticky groove that is magnified by the Hammond organ arrangements. My lethargic state of mind is always pleasingly emphasized by the genuine folk nature of Baby Youíre Out of Your Mind, Live Line, Latte and Song for the Sick. Coxon plays all instruments on his albums but he invited some musicians on this one. The better songs are those with only him playing acoustic guitar and singing but the others are never saturated by multi-instrumentalist masturbation. These rock songs skillfully counterbalance the emphatic sadness of the ballads. He seems so insecure when he sings that he may sound out of key in oneís hear but Iíd rather say that he is on the edge. He writes about loss and pain but also about the waiting of the girl, alternatively optimistic or pessimistic but always limed in sorrow.
In order to end my review in a stupid way once again, I want to say that Graham Coxon is the musician I would like to become when I am through with my own band. Do I really have to wait for the next ten years?
/nov 15th 2002/