LLOYD COLE must know how it feels to be a tug-of-war rope. Hailed in some quarters as a truly gifted kid, a bright spark in the school of literate pop, he’s sneered at in others as an opportunist charlatan, an over-read windbag.

So, naturally talented ‘A’ grader or spotty school swot? Len Deighton or Lea Dawson? The fact is that ‘Easy Pieces’ (like its predecessor. ‘Rattlesnakes’) offers ammo aplenty to both factions.

That being the case, I’ve forsaken the dubious intellectual rigour or r’n’r debate in favour of an unashamedly subjective surf on the record’s backwash. And a pleasant ride it is too.

You know what ‘Pieces’ is about the second you sight the production credits. I don’t mean that Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley are sonic fascists like Spector, Perry or Horn, all of whom impose their own sound on their hapless clients. No, the employment of the C & W team is always a sign of consolidation: they’re always drafted in to cement, rather than induce, pop success.

Hence this Coleslaw is very much like the last.
Fade out the patented Langstanley keyboard bits and, say, the accordion embellishment afforded ‘Grace’ and you’re hearing more snakes rattling. And Lloyd himself hasn’t relented one jot in the face of the critical barrage. The opener, ‘Rich’, doffs a blatant lyrical cap to both T Rex arid The Beatles, while ‘Grace’ will have Cole’s detractors reaching for the blunderbusses with its talk of sensitivity’ and ‘drownings in amphetamine’. Brilliant? Rubbish? Both, and funny too.

Yeah, sometimes you wince as, like say Kevin Rowland he witters away without ever actually saying anything and, yeah, other times you wish that he’d get to grips with one or two of the narrative bushes he so assiduously beats about.

But what the hell? Words are fun and if Cole’s whisking of a few dozen of Longman’s finest ultimately produces a somewhat airy omelette, so what? Most pop struggles with Janet And John!

Of course, ‘Easy Pieces’ is a jelly-kneed construct at gossamer and tissue compared to the howling, hooting, mad-eyed monster that the Mary Chain have ejaculated this week, an ant before the a bulldozer. But taken on its own terms, it’s that most simultaneously fine and useless of creations, a very good pop record.

Publication: New Musical Express

Publication date: 01/01/85