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Graham Coxon – Verse, Chorus, Monster! Review

The 1990s are now far enough away to reminisce about. For those of the era, it means taking a trip down memory lane through the songs of their youth, while those born before it can lap up books and articles from the famous faces of the time. Some are still kicking around, churning away quality works with staggering consistency. Graham Coxon manages that with his solo work, Blur reunions and his recent memoir, Verse, Chorus, Monster!. Three articulate pointers of how he perceives his work and where it takes him. His desire for victory over “the eternal challenge of the pop song” is well-maintained throughout this 300-page reflection. Imposter syndrome and self-doubt rears their ugly head time and again for Coxon, who is tasked with dispelling it frequently. 

He does so throughout Verse, Chorus Monster!, from his early days in Seymour (soon to be a little band named Blur) to his recent works through The Waeve and beyond. A scattershot recollection of moments which touched Coxon or made him fear and fight for who he was at a time when his life was in the public eye and under scrutiny. He puts himself under the same high bar here and brings about an honest and inoffensive, humbling presentation of his own works. Skipping through the glory days of Blur and their Parklife period, Coxon instead focuses on the music which means the most to him and the processes which pulled him from the personal tumult. His influences are recorded sharply and piecing them together like a jigsaw as all good autobiographies set out to do, they give readers a chance for a song to click in a new way. 

Take Coxon’s solo works as an example, his brief explanations and the influences of the time, from folk music to Sylvia Plath and his back-and-forth with alcoholism, are pasted throughout. His openness hits on the very mark he hopes to achieve with a project such as this. He wishes for his work to be open and in doing so provide some help to those who need it, as his music does, particularly Superstate. Help reaches back to those early days of Blur, the intricate professionalism of the four-piece understood with clarity and a respectful amount of detail shone on Damon Albarn, Dave Rowntree and Alex James. This is not the book to tattle, but then Blur never had much of an in-fighting problem, or so it would seem that way through Verse, Chorus, Monster!.   

Gut-wrenchingly honest and open in all the right ways. Coxon comes across as a well-read, in-touch artist hoping to marry his interests together despite the weight of his doubts. He did so successfully for decades and still does now, with The Waeve, with Blur’s reunion, with this book. A hard-working musician and broad creative who cemented his personal legacy years before but cannot help contributing more to an already stuffed case file of quality. Influence is not the be-all and end-all, but Coxon details where he finds himself, particularly on his solo records, and the need to kick up a storm and noise. It reflects nicely on his equally loud and bombastic social life during the heyday of Blur and within its reunion, the personal highs and lows of a man whose influence and talent far exceeds the modest appraisal he presents throughout.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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