Album Review: Graham Coxon – The Spinning Top

Graham Coxon

The Spinning Top

* * * 

I feel somewhat at ease discussing Coxon’s works.  His picture adorned the cover of my physics book 
in high school; I was distraught by his 2003 departure from Blur and elated at the news that the 
band were to reform and play Hyde Park in July.  You could call me a fan, and as such, I entitle 
myself to an overly informed critique.  

Graham Coxon is a virtuoso in the best sense – he can play any tune after hearing it just once, 
on a huge variety of instruments, and has produced, mixed, done the artwork for and played most 
of the instruments on the bulk of his seven solo albums, not to mention all of the work he has 
done with Blur and Pete Doherty.

His seventh offering, The Spinning Top is a concept album that narrates the story of a man’s life, 
from birth until death.  While it is no secret that Coxon is a master of intricate finger-picking, 
rabid solos and diverse experimentation, The Spinning Top can first fall flat on your eardrums.  
Spanning 15 tracks, The Spinning Top feels like a lengthy album, and one can’t help but balk 
at the abundance of solely acoustic tracks.  

‘In The Morning’ is a charming, almost Beatles-esque track, but at eight and a half minutes 
long, drags its feet.  Something about the shift to emulate his folk heroes emphasizes the 
thin tinniness of Coxon’s vocals, and not in the ‘You’re So Great’ way.

Things liven up significantly on the stompalong ditty that is ‘Dead Bees’ – complete with 
the welcome inclusion of droning backing vocals and sound effects.  ‘Sorrow’s Army’ is a great 
compromise in being a light sounding lesson in what great finger picking should sound like, 
without skimping on the percussion or dance factor.  

An admirable effort, but one that will likely leave the listener reaching for one of 
Coxon’s gruntier, kick-pedal-distorted-megaphone-reverb-feedback albums in its place.  

Crank it up loud.

The Spinning Top is out now on Transgressive Records.

Nicky Andrews

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