Release date – 25th September 2006
Lloyd Cole has been making records for over 20 years now. 1984s Rattlesnakes, Cole & the Commotions debut album, rightly won the singer-songwriter a coveted place in the NME Top 100 albums of all time – just ahead of the Beach Boys. It still provides a familiar heartbeat for his live acoustic shows.
Two Commotions albums later he wound up solo in New York. Long on hair and short of sleep he wrote the magnificent, brooding, Lloyd Cole album – From
blancmange in his belly to ice in his veins in six short years. – Tony
Parsons. He also got married and teamed up with some of NYCs best
musicians including Lou Reed guitarist Robert Quine (RIP) and Fred Maher.
If 1991s Dont Get Weird On Me Babe was a schizophrenic, Scott Walker
meets Glen Campbell affair and Bad Vibes (1993) a darker set
altogether, 1995s Love Story was a celebratory return to form which included the surprise hit single Like Lovers Do.
1997 saw the birth of a new Cole-led band, the Negatives, a spirited and irreverent musical antidote to the career merry-go-round of ‘record and tour. The Negatives album followed in 1999 and the band contributed to a boxed set in 2001 which included the magnificent Etc. album as well as instrumental and live CDs.
Fans in the US and Europe kept the faith and his acoustic shows evolved into an irresistible mix of easy vocals, deft guitar playing and self deprecating banter, “I feel awful sitting down when you’re all standing up. But I am very, very old these days. Alone on the stage, Cole found himself strangely at ease, maybe for the
Playing songs by Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen among his own, he tactfully demonstrated that his work could stand alongside theirs – New York Times.
Coles last album, 2003s ‘Music In A Foreign Language’ was the glorious result of the singer honing that acoustic set around the world, revealing Cole as a consummate folk guitarist and a sharp observer of the onset of mid-life. The Commotions reunited, briefly, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rattlesnakes and then it was back to his New England hideaway to start work on the new album.
I sat down and realised that all the musical ideas I had were considerably jauntier than I wished they were it kind of annoyed me, laughs Cole. But you cant decide how creativity hits you and a lot of the ideas were, ironically, the kind of songs that maybe a band like the Commotions would have done.
Working largely alone – Cole plays drums, guitars and keyboards on the new album – he planned to follow Tom Waits modus operandi, setting aside four months to write and record the album. My four months ended up being 18! It was exciting and draining at the same time, but half way through I knew I had the sound that I wanted, an amalgam of electronic and acoustic sounds, he says.
Former Commotion, Neil Clark, provides slide guitar along with contributions from Kevin ORourke, Hurcules Peter Baldwin and the string arrangements of King Radios Dave Trenholm.
Antidepressant contains some of Coles best work to date. The gorgeous, string-driven NYC Sunshine evoking streets full of junkies and millionaires , the gentle acoustic thrum of How Wrong Can You Be, the stock market palare of The Young Idealists and the lyrically poignant Woman In A Bar, no longer driven to distraction, not even by Scarlett Johansson.
I started writing that song about five years ago, recalls Cole. Its set in a world that no longer exists. The concept of a smoked-filled romantic environment is a fantasy now, a thing of the past. It was written before Lost In Translation came out, but I loved that movie because theres a lovely innocence about it and theres nothing leering about Bill Murray. Thats something that one can aspire to as an older gentleman. One can gaze in wonderment at Scarlett Johansson, without any desire to hang out with her.
The albums title is another double-edged sword, as its writer explains. Well an antidepressant is a pill that makes you feel better, but the existence of an antidepressant signifies the existence of depression.
Sat, sweltering in his Easthampton garden, Cole sums up the themes of this new record. The songs Im writing these days tend to be about mid-life, he concludes. Ive always felt the music that I do works in the same way as blues or country music, in that you generally sing about things not going that well. It helps people get over things like that in their lives and somehow find enjoyment or closure on some issues. I get that listening to Tindersticks or Tom Waits and I know thats the area of music that Im in. Its unlikely that Ill be writing for the Ronettes anytime soon.
Having played South Africa for the first time recently, where Cole survived being bitten on his strumming arm by a lion, – well it only needs to hold a pick, the singer tours the UK to promote Antidepressant and other songs in October.
Publication date: 25/09/06