On Graham Coxon’s eighth album the former booze battering Blur man sounds, well, relaxed. A&E is Coxon’s homage to the motorik sounds of the 70s; spikey new wave, swampy electronics and stomping glam rock dominate. He may have been describing the album as his ‘dance’ project, and, yes there are drum machines, but the industrial snarl on tracks such as The Truth share more DNA with early Brian Eno, late Buzzcocks and cult electronic garage act Crome, than anything likely to be banging out your local meat market.
The tracks sprawl and judder, with the guitarist liberally squeezing otherworldy shrieks and scratches from his guitar, studio mistake kept in the mix and mutated into dubby echoes filling space and falling away . His voice is buried in the musical soup, processed, multi tracked, and at several times sounding as similar to Damon Albarn as he ever has—in fact the album feels a lot like the next album Blur never made. Perhaps knowing that this solo work would inevitably be overshadowed by his former bands reunion has allowed Coxon the freedom to stretch out- whatever, when the hectic romp of Running For Your Life kicks in like the thrashing bastard child of Song 2, you realise that these tracks are as strong as any material either Coxon or Blur have released.
So, on this showing, Albarn can keep travelling the world, James can get back to flogging cheese and Rowntree can toddle off to do whatever it is he does—Coxon can give you all the Blur fans all they’ll need and more.