THIS title is very misleading. Lloyd Cole has, in fact, moved right away from his former mainsteam of bright rock music and this album has a bleakness about – both lyrically and musically.

The jangling guitars which owe a lot to the West Coast sound are still there, although curiously muted in some of the songs, especially From The Hip, where Cole deals with a plea from a rebellious youth asking: “Why should I care anymore”.

Even the beautiful Byrds-like Jennifer She Said continues the theme of disappointment, of searching for a new beginning.

Cole bares his frustrations with elusive rock stardom on the up-tempo Mr Malcontent and the hard-edged satire of Sean Penn Blues.

Both made more dramatic by being instrumentally pared to the bone.

The best track on Mainstream is the powerful Hey Rusty, a plea to return to the good old days with the guitars interwoven with a tasteful synthesiser melody that shows just how good Cole’s music can be.

Imagine what a whole album would be like if he was in a happier mood.

Publication: The Advertiser (Nationwide News Pty Limited)

Publication date: 25/11/87