Graham Coxon

The Sky Is Too High

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Graham Coxon had often said he felt the loose, jagged, American-indie sound of Blur's self-titled album was "his" more so than the band's other members -- The Sky Is Too High, released between Blur and its follow-up, 13, lends credence to this statement. Most of the record is drum-less, consisting of oddly slanted constructions of electric and acoustic guitars in Coxon's trademark style (quirky, sloppy riffs and arpeggios shooting all over the fretboard) -- the real magic is the way this approach works so perfectly on strange minimal ballads like "In a Salty Sea" and "Waiting," the sorts of constructions Blur shied away from until their self-titled release. The resulting songs are reminiscent of certain pre-Blur tracks (Modern Life Is Rubbish's "Miss America," most notably), but Coxon's low-fi, personal and decidedly non-pop approach makes this sound work as a little world unto itself, rather than a brief excursion on a thoroughly pop record. On the rare tracks where Coxon switches to a driving, noisy full-band arrangement, things are equally slanted and interesting -- since The Sky Is Too High is essentially a side project, and therefore tends to restrict itself to a small, bedroom quality, one has to wonder what a proper solo release from Coxon would sound like.

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