One of the complications of getting older is how easy it is to get stuck in a rut, a perpetual cycle of sameness. It is a feeling that you can slip into without even really noticing until you suddenly realise that there is little in life from which you actually derive much pleasure. This seems to be something of which Lloyd Cole is acutely aware, as his career particularly over the last decade has seen him engage in a variety of styles and projects, including a brief spell back with the Commotions. His last two albums were resolutely solo affairs, recorded in his attic, but new release Broken Record is more of a group effort, that sees him welcome Lou Reeds drummer Fred Maher, Joan Wasser and Commotions keyboard player Blair Cowan into the studio.
Cole has come a long way from Buxton, living now in Massachusetts. He still spends a good three months of each year on the road, his concerts a combination of music performed solo, comedic anecdotes and tales of golf. This album though seems to be a concerted attempt to reconnect with his audience. It is accessible and melodic, relatively brief at a little over 35 minutes, feeling country with pedal steel without committing itself fully to Nashville. Title track Like a Broken Record starts with a gently picked banjo as Cole sings a lie of a lack of dignity, Writers Retreat! allowing his voice to shine amid Maggie May mandolins.
Also good is Oh Genevieve, packed with instrumentation as it dips and turns from one pace to another, and the intricate guitar lines of Rhinestones. The only misstep is the overly perky album closer Double Happiness, its repeated refrains slightly cloying and overly sweet. There are songs here every bit the equal of those from his glory days, his muse revitalised with this fine collection.
Publication: The Line of Best Fit
Publication date: 20/09/10