On last year’s “Lloyd Cole,” the first album the singer-songwriter recorded after leaving the Commotions and Scotland behind, he enlisted such musicians as guitarist Robert Quine and drummer Fred Maher, both veterans of Lou Reed and Richard Hell bands, with admirably edgy results. Perhaps named after longtime fans’ reaction to that effort, “Don’t Get Weird on Me, Babe” (Capitol) is a retreat. Many of the songs again employ Quine and Maher (as well as Matthew Sweet, whose excellent new “Girlfriend” uses the same musicians, including Cole), but this time the results are blander, more Commotions-like. The second side — for those whose playback technology still offers sides — even proffers Cole as a crooner, backed with an orchestra conducted by former Elton John schlockmeister Paul Buckmaster.

Cole fans should be comfortable with this stuff, if perhaps a little impatient with its similarity to his pre-solo material. (Five of the 12 songs were co-written by ex-Commotions keyboardist Blair Cowan.) Even the rue seems familiar: “I got a four-letter word that begins with “L”/ I can’t bring myself to say it because it’s making my life hell,” Cole sings in the opening “Tell Your Sister,” and the album’s most striking song has nothing more to say than “She’s a Girl and I’m a Man.” He’s a singer and this is an album, but “Lloyd Cole” promised more than that. (To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call 202-334-9000 and press 8153.)

Publication: The Washington Post

Publication date: 20/11/91