COLE’s releases are frequently dogged by a stiltedness that suggests he’s not entirely at home around pop music. On his third solo album, guitars chiming and scratching in the background, he sounds as self-conscious as an adult crashing a teenage party. The most striking number, Wild Mushrooms, is almost embarrassing to listen to: accompanying himself on guitar, he fantasises about a sado-masochistic encounter: “You tied me up/I see blisters on my wrists/I think I’d like to do it again.” Cringe. Cole’s intellect creates a gap between him and the music, thwarting his attempts to play the moody rock star. Bad Vibes was written and recorded in New York, and sounds like it. On the lilting pop-burst So You Want To Save The World, he uses (ironically, one trusts) the phrase “bring out my inner child”, while the sinuous Can’t Get Arrested is a Manhattanite’s tirade against Hollywood values. Cole fans will love this record; others may be unconvinced.

Publication: The Guardian (London)

Publication date: 15/10/93