Drowned in Sound: Graham Coxon
Drowned in Sound
Love Travels at Illegal Speeds
by Kodi McKinney, DJ at U92
Musically speaking, the British always seem to be a little ahead of America. Sometimes their advantages are clear to us, as with the British Invasion. But in former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon's case, the Brits saw a March release of his new solo album, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds. The United States had to wait until this Halloween to get the disc domestically, but it was worth it.
While Blur front man Damon Albarn is off making waves with his Gorillaz project, Coxon is making music for no one but himself, and it shows. In all fairness, he's been making music mostly with himself as well; he wrote everything on Love Travels at Illegal Speeds and played the majority of the instruments. Nevertheless, one listen to the album's impressive composition and sparkling production will prove that Coxon means business.
As a competent guitarist, Coxon is obviously inclined to take some solos throughout Love Travels at Illegal Speeds. While not the most technical player, his playing is very energetic and adds to the already considerable quotient of rock on this record. He always makes up for his limitations with extremely tasteful soloing, particularly on the slow jangler "Just A State Of Mind," where his lead lines add texture instead of taking away from the song. This is a rare quality in a guitarist, and it is clearly one of Coxon's greatest musical strengths. However, that doesn't mean he can't rock with the best of them, as one listen to the burner "Gimme Some Love" demonstrates.
Coxon has definitely written some good songs for Love Travels At Illegal Speeds, ranging from chord-focused pop with chiming guitars to downright beastly riffs and occasional weirdness ("I Don't Wanna Go Out" features both, actually). Several parts of these songs are likely to get stuck in your head. If the rhythms in songs like "Don't Let Your Man Know" don't get you, the lyrical hooks might so long as your ears can adjust to his very British voice. Laid-back tracks are side by side with plenty of danceable tunes; "What's He Got?" even manages to be cool as ice and energetic simultaneously. The songs some might consider weak will be exactly what the doctor ordered to other listeners. If there's anything left to be said about Graham Coxon, it's that he is a highly versatile songwriter.
This record sounds like it would be full of hits if not for Coxon's somewhat abrasive vocals. As it stands now, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds is a very strong release that will be rewarding to anyone with open ears. This just sounds fun, and in the end, that's half the battle for any entertainer.
Rating: 4 out of 5