By his own estimation, Lloyd Cole has released only two records, “Music in a Foreign Language” and “Rattlesnakes,” his first release with his band the Commotions, that have, in retrospect, met his expectations. So it is far too early to ask him about his new release, “Antidepressant.”
“Since I finished it, I haven’t had a minute to really think about it,” says Cole. “I have to put my faith in my aesthetic and my advisers and say, ‘The record’s finished now, we have a release date, we’re going to scamper around and try to get the wheels in motion.’ Maybe this time next year I’ll look back and say, ‘Do I like it, am I really pleased with it?'”
Cole, who performs Wednesday at Club Cafe, South Side, does allow the reviews for “Antidepressant” have been fantastic, maybe the best he ever has received. And that’s saying something because most of Cole’s work, dating back to his work with the Commotions in the 1980s, has been met with favor among fans and critics.
Like most of his work, “Antidepressant” conveys various emotional touchstones. These are not songs that are exercises in finding words that rhyme but thoughtful, introspective set pieces that, in many cases, have the gravity and ballast of short films.
Take, “Woman in a Bar,” one of the album’s best tracks. Each component of the song is delineated with the kind of details used by short-story writers, with the end result being the narrator realizing he no longer is “driven to distraction/not even by Scarlett Johansson.”
Noting that he started writing the song when he still was in his 30s, Cole, now 45, says a lot had changed by the time he had finished it.
“I didn’t live in New York anymore, and there aren’t smoke-filled bars in the world anymore,” he says. “That idea of Lauren Bacall walking across the bar to Humphrey Bogart, it’s an incredibly dated mid-20th century concept that really does place me in the sense of where my aesthetic is rooted. And it’s rooted in the past, in a place that no longer exists. I still regard Brian Ferry doing ‘These Foolish Things’ as one of the more romantic things. If you speak to a 25-year-old person these days, they wouldn’t have a clue what that even might be.”
Thus, Cole was writing about something that “was no longer really relevant,” at least to a certain segment of the population. Not that it matters to his fans, who seem emotionally attached to his work in ways that transcend music. Noting a few acoustic shows he played in Sweden where he was made aware some men were driven to tears — “I guess I cried when I saw Leonard Cohen,” he says — it is this type of emotional resonance that gives Cole a sense of purpose.
“That’s one of the things that makes being a songwriter interesting,” he says. “To try and address the issues that define parts of one’s life. Being 40, being in the part of life that’s called middle age … there’s a lot of stuff to come to terms with. And there’s a lot positive to be found in there as well, but it’s a difficult time of adjustment.”
“Antidepressant” also can be seen as songs about people who live in the houses depicted on the CD sleeve: A brilliantly-hued overhead scene of suburbia by artist Susan Logoreci from her painting “Silverlake Revisited.” It is the one facet of the album that Cole has no reservations about.
“it’s just been a fantastic marriage,” Cole says, noting that when he contacted her, Logoreci just had quit her day job to pursue art full-time. “I’ve heard nothing but praise for it, and I’ve got an album sleeve that other people should be jealous of.”
Publication: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Publication date: 14/11/06