It’s weird enough to grow old with your rock idols — weirder still when their trademark youthful melancholy turns cheerful, even winsome. Lloyd Cole, ever the brooding, literary lover, is prone to occasional bouts of good spirits, a fact he marveled at a few years ago in a song describing his good mood, called “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” — a title he answered, “Nothing at all.” After 2004’s dreadfully dreary divorce album, “Music in a Foreign Language,” Cole bounces back with “Antidepressant,” a title that should be ironic but isn’t. In a press release for this disc, Cole complains, “I sat down and realized that all the musical ideas I had were considerably jauntier than I wished they were — it kind of annoyed me.”

We’re not talking the Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” kind of startling sunniness, but Cole boldly declares in “Woman in a Bar” that he’s “no longer angry, no longer young, no longer driven to distraction — even by Scarlett Johansson.” And he sounds OK with it. He’s passed that threshhold in middle life when a man can view his younger days with appreciation, not pining. So “The Young Idealists” reminisces coolly about Bonfire of the Vanities-era folly. “NYC Sunshine” is a simple celebration of a walk in the park. “Everysong” offers the crystalline wisdom of a veteran songwriter, even adding to the upturned mood with its lyrics (“you can’t cry every song”) and bright acoustic guitars. The music is buoyant throughout — with former bandmates Neil Clark and Jill Sobule adding guitars — but it’s Cole’s wordplay that still spins gold. The title track recounts this depricating dialogue:

“I said, ‘I’m trying to write my novel’ / She said, ‘Neither am I’ ” and then — in a song called “Antidepressant” — he casually name-drops No Depression magazine.

Aces, all aces.

Publication: Chicago Sun-Times

Publication date: 30/04/07