Graham Coxon, formerly of Blur, is almost more fun by himself. Less Brit-Poppy and more garage-rocky, with sassy, sarcastic vocals and a ‘60s and ‘70s vibe, Happiness in Magazines is fun and shows off the development of a solo artist.
The record still sounds far less produced than a Blur album, but the quality is clear and crisp even when he plays a low-fi bluesy number (“Girl Done Gone”), and especially on songs like the ripping opening track “Spectacular”—a cute tribute to an internet pinup photo. Coxon’s got the attitude that seems to be a prerequisite for a former Brit-pop idol, but comes off more tongue-in-cheek than egocentric, even if at least half the songs on the album contain a subtle slur at someone. “People of the Earth” embodies this vibe, as Coxon takes on the persona of an alien shouting through a bullhorn at the people below, “People of the earth, you do not rock!”
There’s even a Beatles-y vibe on some of the songs, more McCartney than Lennon, as on “Bittersweet Bundle of Misery.” But the real standout on this record is, of course, Coxon’s guitar. That’s not to say that his songwriting is lacking, but rather a tribute to his obvious skill. If this were really the first record with songs written on electric rather than acoustic guitar, I’d love to see what he sounds like when he’s gotten used to it.