SINCE he parted ways with the Commotions, Lloyd Cole has been on a bit of an extended lost weekend; his three solo albums, Lloyd Cole, Don’t Get Weird Or Me Babe and Bad Vibes failed to consolidate his reputation as one of the most literate and intelligent singer/songwriters of the Eighties, and the last time he played here (at the Stadium in 1991), the Glasgow bard seemed somewhat devoid of direction and a little lost for ideas.

With his new album, Love Story, Cole seems to have regained the immediacy and simplicity which made him an icon of the bedsit set, and which put him right up there with Morrissey in the hearts of many thinking teens. At the Mean Fiddler on Wednesday night, Cole made a triumphant return, and fans strained to catch a glimpse of their erstwhile idol over a veritable sea of punters.

Cole kicked off with his best known song, Perfect Skin, getting it out of the way like an unwanted blemish before doing a surprise Lou Reed cover, revealing both his influences and aspirations with one stroke of a chord. I Didn’t Know That You Cared was the first helping from the new album, and it certainly sounded like Cole cared about his new material, because he imbued it with all the empathy, he could muster. Other new songs like Sentimental Fool, Happy For You and Like Lovers Do also came across like vintage Cole, and augured well for his return to form.

It may be a case of a love story too late, however, because Cole’s music now seems like a relic from a more innocent age, when groups like The Bluebells and The Housemartins could be deemed vital and indispensable. Against a mid Nineties backdrop, the songs from Love Story sound somewhat quaint, like pleasant ditties which once meant a lot to adolescent minds, but now seem like sentimental follies in the cold light of adulthood.

Publication: The Irish Times

Publication date: 29/09/95