Graham Coxon - The End of the F***ing World

by John Plowright Rating:9 Release Date:2018-01-26
Graham Coxon - The End of the F***ing World
Graham Coxon - The End of the F***ing World

What the NME once referred to as Graham Coxon’s “reputation for moodiness, even instability” which “precedes him like a vast therapist's couch” might be judged an asset rather than a liability in his writing the soundtrack for ‘The End of the F***king World’ – Channel 4’s dark mini-series (based on the graphic novel by Charles Forsman) about the road trip of two alienated adolescents: James, who witnessed his mother’s suicide and thinks he’s a psychopath, and the socially abrasive Alyssa, who's been emotionally scarred by her father walking out of her life.

To be wholly successful a soundtrack album needs both to evoke the images it originally accompanied whilst meriting listening in its own right. Coxon’s music manages to do this brilliantly, as well as overcoming the additional handicap of standing alongside the many other talented artistes (including Fleetwood Mac, Buzzcocks and The Spencer Davis Group) whose music was also featured in the TV programs but does not appear here.

The opening track, ‘Walking All Day’ is probably the most memorable not only because it's used more than once in the series but also because its catchy tune and deceptively simple lyrics aptly summarise the character of James. Talking Head’s Psycho Killer’s bed was on fire, so he couldn’t sleep but Coxon’s disturbed teen has his mouth, feet, hands and heart on fire only because he’s fumblingly reaching out to make contact with the object of his affection, and by the end of the song Coxon is backed by a female voice symbolising the fact that the odd couple of Alyssa and James ultimately find love, albeit an unconventional and ultimately (spoiler alert!) tragic one.

‘Angry Me’, the second track, begins by referencing ‘Song 2’, which Coxon co-wrote with his other Blur band members but in general the sixteen tracks of ‘The End of the F***king World’ represent an interesting evolution of his solo work. Only the sixteen-second ‘Flashback’ might be regarded as dispensable, as everything else richly rewards multiple listening, from the Morricone-meets-Chris Isaak-and The Man with the Golden Arm-magic of ‘The Snare’ to ‘In My Room’, which represents a more relatable re-telling of the Beach Boys’ number of the same name, depicting it as a place of self-imposed exile rather than sanctuary from the outside world.

Several popstars, notably Mark Knopfler, Stewart Copeland and Nick Cave have carved out successful careers as writers of soundtracks. On the evidence of the often achingly beautiful ‘The End of the F***king World’ Graham Coxon is set to join their number.

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