Lloyd Cole

By - Nov 1st, 2006 02:52 pm
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By Blaine Schultz

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ 1984 debut album, Rattlesnakes, garnered a good amount of airplay (both on college radio and MTV) and press. In the years that followed, this competent record would be lionized as a masterpiece. In hindsight, the dude had a ways to go.

Twenty-plus years and a dozen albums find Cole releasing another sophisticated pop album. Or mature pop album. Or literate pop album. Let’s just say that, lyrically, Cole comes across as pretty sincere… verging on humorless. He is content to merely litter the landscape – dropping hip, young urban references whenever he gets the chance. His jumbles of words come off like a blatant attempt to impress the listener.

Covering Moby Grape’s “I Am Not Willing,” he sings of a romantic breakup: “I’m so grateful, no longer willing to have a home,” relieved that she gave him a reason to split. The very next song, “Slip Away,” offers this: “I propose an exit strategy… to slip into the ether where I belong.” Maybe only a true artist can blur the lines between woe-is-me and self-satisfied sneer. Maybe Lloyd Cole is that artist… Maybe.

But a typical album is a good year’s hard work, so let’s not pitch this disc into the landfill just yet. Musically and sonically, the album is brilliant. The stylish arrangements build on Cole’s modern folk tunes, adding brushed drums here, textured keyboards there and even a richly impressive string section on a few tracks. Rhythms lean toward bossa nova, while subtle loops and delayed guitar riffs add to the palette. If you can get beyond the lyrics, Antidepressant would be perfect listening in a Starbucks or Barnes & Noble.

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