photo manipulation by nacrowe
because of my father's job, my family spent part of the 90s living overseas in NIGERIA. during the summers stretching from 1996-98 we spent time with a british relative in a northern LONDON suburb of HATFIELD. that community was home to the DE HAVILLAND AEROSPACE COMPANY that during WWII produced the MOSQUITO fighter jet, of which my relative was a part engineer. dude was one of the coolest guys i've ever met, but that's for a later post.
it just so happened that those years were at the tail end of the BRITPOP explosion which exposed me to all sorts of bands from OASIS and BLUR to ELASTICA, PULP, SLEEPER, LUSH, SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, SUEDE, THE PRODIGY and beyond.
one of my favorite groups from that era is BLUR, probably because aesthetically they were very much informed by the narrative songwriting of BRITISH INVASION bands like THE KINKS and THE WHO while also embracing the discordantly melodic and expressive qualities of more sonically experimental american INDIE ROCK music like PAVEMENT and DINOSAUR DJ.
those two tendencies in BLUR's music undoubtedly is rooted in the tastes of their two main songwriters, DAMON ALBARN and GRAHAM COXON. ALBARN is widely celebrated, for good reason, as one of the great songwriters of his era, having genre-skipped with delight throughout his numerous solo and side endeavors including GORILLAZ, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE QUEEN and ROCKET JUICE & THE MOON, not to mention his production work with BOBBY WOMACK, AMADOU & MARIAM, THE STROKES, DE LA SOUL and numerous collaborations and film work. the vein through his work is his mercurial sense of songwriting brilliance that can navigate through seemingly any sonic texture or genre aesthetic.
but i feel that the work of COXON is equally as compelling, only the palette much more limited and the scope of his music more controlled, confined and determined. his songwriting is more along the lines of SYD BARRETT or NICK DRAKE in that he uses sound and lyrics to give off a vibe rather than a clear perspective. it is at once deliberate yet paradoxically opaque. whereas ALBARN tends to use music and lyrics as a way to draw the listener into a particular character or worldview, COXON invites the listener to enjoy the visceral ride and not get caught up in red herrings like meaning and interpretation.
i enjoy both songwriting traditions that each encompasses, but i just wanted to shed light on what a brilliant songwriter COXON has always been. if anything that push and pull of these two styles was a key element into what made BLUR such a creative and artistic force.