A Coxon Classic!

Having broken through in a big way with his last album to a point where more than just a handful of people new Graham Coxon for more than just being "that guitarist bloke out of Blur", what came next was always going to be very interesting. What we've got is a typically strong collection of songs, showing both his aggressive and gentle sides as well as a love of a wide range of musical styles.

The album gets off to a flying start with the first single 'Standing on my Own Again'. For this not to feature in the ten best singles of the year there will need to be some truly brilliant tracks out over the next few months. It's the perfect album opener as not only is it a fast, energetic and direct rock anthem in the making, but in case you've forgotten what the typical Graham Coxon sound is, it's here in a nutshell.

The next two continue in the vein of Coxon's punk influenced rock, in the case of 'I Can't Look At Your Skin' it's like the seventies never went away, but Coxon also writes some great softer and melodic tracks. 'Just A State of Mind' and 'Flights To The Sea (Lovely Rain)' being great examples from this album. For me though he is at his best when he goes down the heavier root, the tunes stick in the head for longer, his guitar playing suits this style better and the faster songs have more character and stand out more as being his. That said were there not to be any change in pace then this would be a far worse album.

Whatever your personal view of where Coxon excels, it can't be argued that the great tracks simply keep on coming, and there's a variety in styles which keeps this as a very interesting record right to the end. The three strongest in the second half are 'Don't Believe Anything I Say', which is an acoustic based song and I can see this one becoming a bit of a live favourite; 'Tell it Like It Is' is a future single in my eyes, similar to 'Bitter Sweet Bundle of Misery' in tempo and 'What's He Got?' returns to the seventies sound but is more Rolling Stones than Sex Pistols or the Damned.

I don't think Graham Coxon is the greatest singer you'll ever hear, there's probably many better them him on the guitar, but what sets him apart as one of the UK's best current recording artists is how he manages to take a broad range of different styles and condenses them into an album that at no point sounds like it is trying too hard to be clever. The most effective parts of this record are those which appear very simple, the songs are direct and we're never far away from a killer guitar hook.

There have been several great albums out in 2006 already; 'Love Travels at Illegal Speeds' is another to be added to the list. Wish me luck coming up with my suggestions for our end of year review.