Graham Coxon 

Love Travels at Illegal Speeds (EMI)

Graham Coxon spent years supplying Blur with noisy guitar hooks, in a vain attempt to steer the band toward a more Pavement-like aesthetic. Then, after leaving the band, he released three reckless, barely listenable solo discs and distanced himself from his bandmates in an exaggerated tabloid manner. But on his latest, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, Coxon offers up an astonishingly brilliant disc that sounds more than a bit like...Blur. Some of Love's appeal can be attributed to the production acumen of Stephen Street, who produced most of the Blur catalogue as well as Happiness in Magazines, the similarly attuned predecessor to Illegal. But it's Coxon's melancholic writing and angular fretwork, all loosely centered on the fragile, twisted nature of love and lust, that impress the most. Standout tracks such as "I Don't Wanna Go Out," "Don't Let Your Man Know" and "You Always Let Me Down" throw calculation and acrimony to the wind, and rock with abandon.

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