Lloyd Cole
One Little Indian
Rating: A

Why is Lloyd Cole not a household name in North America? A brilliant singer-songwriter who fronted a terrific band before striking out on his own, Cole is maddeningly consistent; he releases albums that are thought-provoking and lyrical. And yet, he’s not a household name.

It’s a paradox that has probably vexed more than a few of his fans. Upon review, when one puts aside his appreciation for the artist and attempts to look at his situation through an unbiased lens, one has to believe that the bleak nature of his recordings is a major reason that he has not connected with many.

One cannot expect Lloyd Cole to get all Up With People on your ass; that’s not who he is; however, on his new album, Antidepressant , he exhibits an air of insouciance, of playfulness, that is refreshing. The harmonica accompaniment on “Everysong,” a track, on which Cole concludes, “[you] can’t cry every song.”

And he doesn’t. The opening track, “The Young Idealists” – with a simple guitar showcases Cole’s wonderful voice – is upbeat and, at the same time, acidic (“Then we bought into the neocon economic dream.”) That he can take lyrics at which others might despair and turn them into something hopeful and uplifting imbues the disc with a sense that Cole might squeeze some lemons into lemonade.

And, amazingly, he does. “Woman In A Bar,” with its violin backing ; “New York City Sunshine,” with its self-deprecating charm (“Walking with the junkies and with the millionaires in the New York City… Sunshine”) ; and “Antidepressant,” which imparts a sense that all will be right in the end (“with my medication I will be fine”) all leverage Cole’s gift for twisting a lyric into a direction that is unexpected, but not unappreciated.

This being a Lloyd Cole disc, one expects the melancholy to seep in at some point, and it does on the closing “Rolodex Incident,” but the track serves as a needed balance and closes the album leaving the listener clear that while Lloyd Cole is ably sings about life when it is going well for him, he always remembers the inherent beauty that is also found in sadness.

Antidepressant is just that. It is an album built on the idea that one should appreciate the joys that life presents – even if they are not always so obvious. It has been a long time since Lloyd Cole has moved this writer to gush. After several difficult albums, Cole returns with his finest work in more than a decade and one of the year’s best.

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Publication: GrooveVolt.com

Publication date: 15/04/07