Like a college-radio James Taylor, Lloyd Cole is a very talented songwriter who can be a big snooze. At the Academy last Saturday night, Mr. Cole performed a set of songs with characteristics that, after five albums, are becoming his trademark: soft, sleepy, sensitive. His lulling rhythms and guitar-strumming were as regular as a ticking clock; his deep, slightly crooning voice seldom strayed from its comfortable lower range. Songs from his new album, “Don’t Get Weird on Me, Babe” (Capitol), blended in seamlessly with material by the Commotions, the band he led from 1984 to 1989, as though the whole set were actually just one song with different little emotional peaks and valleys. When, every now and then, Mr. Cole’s voice climbed a few notches from its somnolent depths, the effect was like being jolted awake; when bright white stage lights suddenly flashed on, it was like being given an electric shock.

Mr. Cole’s songs are about daily melodramas: moments that occur between lovers, details about a person that catch the eye. But he creates no sense of melodrama. Even his songs about heartbreak seem to drift from verse to chorus to verse to chorus, as if the words were written on clouds floating by. At the Academy, even his stage presence was built on stasis: he didn’t move around much, didn’t visibly emote. “We’re about to enter what I like to think of as the mellow part of the set,” he announced halfway through the show. But the song he played was pretty much the same as the one before it.

Publication: The New York Times

Publication date: 28/12/91