Eighties icon takes a lost weekend with Joan as policewoman
In 1984 Lloyd Cole and The Commotions released Rattlesnakes. At the time Cole was studying philosophy and his knowingly pretentious lyrics name checked icons of old. ‘She looks like Eve Marie Saint in on the waterfront she reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance. She’s less than sure if her heart has come to stay in San Jose and her never born child haunts her as she speeds down the freeway.’ This literate and imaginative imagery set to beautiful melody became a ‘student bedsit classic.’ Today it remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

After two further albums with the band he move to New York and released a succession of solo albums. After a decade of self imposed exile as a would be folk singer Cole decided he needed collaborators to bounce his ideas off. The result is ‘Broken Record,’ follows 2006’s album ‘Antidepressant,’ and sees him reunited with Blair Cowan of the commotions. He also enlists Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Policewoman on vocal duty.

Immediately engaging, the opener ‘Like a Broken Record,’ begins. ‘Not that I had much dignity left anyway, nor could I feign great surprise when she finally walked away. Yesterday’s lover will fall for another and I won’t stand in her way.’ A road trip ensues. ‘Writer’s Retreat,’ is a beefed up piece of alt-country. On ‘The Flipside,’ his voice sounds uncannily like Roy Orbison. A slide guitar prettily punctuates ‘Westchester County Jail.’ ‘I look like a million bucks. Sure I’m not worth quite that much.’ ‘Oh Genevieve,’ takes a trip back in time to the upbeat indie of the ‘Easy Pieces,’ this is laced with French for good measure. ‘Man Overboard,’ sounds like a Highland shanty but shows that he hasn’t lost his love for namedropping. ‘So she channels Garbo, carves a halo of smoke.’ ‘Rhinestones,’ sounds like his North East contemporaries The Daintees and is every bit as lovely. Here he informs us he’s not a mathematical guy! Clearly his talent lies in English. ‘Double Happiness,’ ends the album in a crescendo of harmony.

Lloyd Cole was always Glasgow’s adoptive son but his tenure in the states seems to have pushed him towards warm Americana which is imbued with delicate, intricate guitars and mandolins. The witty poetry he learnt to write there thankfully remains. This is an album to luxuriate in with layers to explore. Are you ready to be heartbroken? Thankfully not by a disappointing album from this eighties icon.

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Publication: Subba Cultcha

Publication date: 01/10/10