Graham Coxon – A+E
Created as a conscious response to the burn-out he experienced touring 2009’s brilliant and meticulously crafted The Spinning Top, A+E finds Coxon embracing dissonance, lo-fi murk and motorik beats to deliver his noisiest and most visceral album since 2000’s The Golden D.
The sparse, thuggish chug of City Hall – replete with a relentlessly surly drum-machine rhythm – is a fascinatingly evocative departure for Coxon, but the mood is quickly dissipated by the fatiguing lo-fi synth pop of What’ll It Take, which strings out a single mediocre hook for four and a half minutes. The wilful abrasiveness of Bah Singer and the seductively-scuzzy pop-punk of Running for Your Life provide thrills in spades whilst album closer Ooh, Yeh Yeh manages to recall a half-speed version of The Fall’s hypnotic Grotesque-era stomp, with Smith’s perverse chatter replaced by a breezy, soulful croon.
Although Coxon’s experiments in texture are largely successful, the album is hamstrung by a handful of weak tracks; Knife in the Cast superficially echoes the suffocating treacle-thick anxiety of Blur’s Essex Dogs but never coalesces into anything as substantial and Advice typifies the kind of pedestrian garage rock that Coxon can probably write in his sleep. It’s a bracingly unfussy racket all told, but A+E doesn’t quite have the strength of songwriting to place it among Coxon’s best work.