Monday, May 9, 2011

Old Lloyd Cole Article

Time to reprint another of my old articles from Pulp Newsweekly. I wrote the following review for singer/songwriter Lloyd Cole's album "Music in a Foreign Language" in 2003. Lloyd is a long-time favorite, and intrinsically tied into some very specific memories for me. I really can't be objective about this artist. Lloyd Cole Music In A Foreign Language, the latest CD by singer/songwriter Lloyd Cole, marks the twenty-year anniversary of his recording career. Rattlesnakes, his first album with his band the Commotions, was released in the post New Wave, pre-Alternative days of 1984, spawning the minor radio hit Perfect Skin. What separated Cole from most of his contemporaries were his well-written, literate lyrics. He was able to combine intelligence and emotion in clever turns of phrase. His voice was plaintive, emotional and sexy, angst-ridden without being whiney. It was the perfect combination to appeal to what was then called College Rock. In spite of this strong start, wider success continued to elude him. Still, true to his muse, Cole continued to work and record. In 1990, after three albums, he dropped the Commotions with his eponomously titled Lloyd Cole. The 90’s saw him experiment with different sounds. Both Bad Vibes and Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe featured richer sounds with full orchestration. His last major label release in the US, The Negatives (with Jill Sobule), featured the return of a more traditional band structure. Since then Cole has continued to record without the support of the music industry. He sold albums directly from his website, maintaining a close personal contact with his fan base. Music In A Foreign Language was originally released in Europe in 2003 on Sanctuary Records. In 2004 an American label, One Little Indian Us, picked it up. For the first time in years Cole is getting airplay. The sound is stripped down, focusing primarily on Cole’s voice and guitar. The other instrumentation serves to underscore these strengths. His lyrics are still literate and intelligent, laced with melancholy and yearning. His cover of Nick Cave’s People Ain’t No Good is delivered as a simple statement of sad-but-true, obvious fact. “I learned the language of the self-obsessed,” he sings in Shelf Life, the album’s final track. His voice is older now, more experienced, accepting of life instead of resigned to it. The last lines of the album seem to reflect that more mature attitude. “No longer waiting for my prayers to be answered/No longer waiting for my publisher’s call/No longer charming in my reminisces/Only immersed in a faint afterglow.” The following video is a live clip of his first single, "Perfect Skin" from 1984 with his band The Commotions.

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