The Sky Is Too High
By: Eric G.
This is Blur guitarist Graham Coxon’s first solo album and first full-length release on his label Transcopic Records.
It is an extreme departure from what you might expect if you’re familiar with Blur (even if you’re familiar with
Blur’s relatively noisy self-titled album of last year). At its most abrasive, Blur still manages to retain catchy
hooks and pristine vocal melodies. This album was written while Coxon was on the wagon during Blur’s world tour
last year. The lyrics are downbeat and self-deprecating bordering on the absurd (“R U Lonely”, “Where’d
You Go”). With Blur his prowess even outshines Blur leader Damon Albarn’s pop sensibilities at times. Coxon
plays every instrument on this record- not that there are that many, but knowing that you get a better sense of
his obsessiveness and control over the music. The vocals all seem like first takes allowing bad notes to slide,
which gives the record a very live and rushed feel (it was recorded in only five days). It’s almost like he had
to get it out of his system or he would burst. The songs are all in the first person and are mainly acoustic, dirge-like
ballads. However, the guitar ranges from muted acoustic rhythms to shredding flecks of feedback and abrasion. You
can hear his influences throughout: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and, especially, Syd Barrett and Nick Drake, the
latter of whom gets his name dropped in the album’s most revealing lyric: “I wish I could bring Nick Drake
back to life/He’d understand/hold my hand.” The Sky Is Too High is rather a low-key album for a guitarist
of Coxon’s stature, but that is probably the point.