He's left Blur, quit drinking and settled into quiet family life -- where has our Graham Coxon gone? Once the member of said esteemed outfit most likely to fall out of a pub onto the front sidewalk, be caught by the paparazzi pissing on parliament, or show up for a gig blasted off his face, Coxon has tamed his wild ways. Thankfully, his music (and perhaps his children) has become the beneficiary of good, clean living.
Coxon may as well have changed his last name to Parker for Happiness in Magazines -- it's a blinding sprint through an uncharacteristically joyous batch of new-wave pop songs, crammed with snarky one-liners and the kind of buzzbomb guitars that made Blur such a rousing success. Wisely, the still-sober Coxon has strayed from the woe-is-me I'm done drinking misery of past outings, jettisoning The Golden D's faux-Mission of Burma skronkiness while he's at it. What's more, he's taken to writing actual tunes -- comprised of melodies, choruses and sarcastically discernible vocals -- that are every bit as catchy as "Charmless Man" and twice as deviant. Whether he's reveling in the string-soaked prettiness of "All Over Me" or going bonzo-pop mad on the aptly titled "Freakin' Out" and "Right to Pop!", Coxon's effortless cool comes to the fore, imbuing each song with a wiry, infectious energy.
If Happiness in Magazines is anything to go on, look for droves of rock/pop stars to follow Coxon's suit, drying out like knickers on the wash line and praying that it brings them a second shot at the spotlight.