Lloyd Cole – Broken Record

It takes a lot of guts for a singer/songwriter to sing a tune like “Broken Record.” It takes even more intestinal fortitude to title an album with that very phrase, yet Lloyd Cole takes that risk on his latest long player.

When Cole first started recording music, he came off as a Brit with a fondness for American culture. He was quick to name-drop folks like Norman Mailer and Eva Marie Saint into his little pop songs, which made him come off as a more pretentious Morrissey. However, it was still hard to resist memorable songs like “Perfect Skin” and “Cut Me Down” off those early albums.

It’s ironic that he ironically titled one of these early songs “Why I Love Country Music,” especially since those initial tunes sure didn’t sound like they came from a country music aficionado. Yet Broken Record finds that country instrumentation playing a larger role in many of these songs. The album’s title track finds Cole describing a trip through country music-saturated Texas. Later on “Rhinestones,” Cole gets down for a gentle two-step complete with acoustic and banjo interplay. Pedal steel guitar also plays a big role in the backdrop to “Westchester County Jail.” One assumes Cole has not — nor will he ever — “go country.” However, he most certainly enjoys the building blocks of country music, as he turns to them often for his latest musical constructions.

Whether or not he’s making secret plans to track his next disc in Nashville is debatable. However, there’s no debate that the world of record making has inspired many of the songs on this new effort. How else would you explain song titles like “The Flipside,” “If I Were A Song,” and, of course, “Broken Record”? Cole is also still quite enamored with the literary world, as is expressed by “Writers Retreat!”

Cole has always been able to impress with his wit. However, one of his most underrated traits is his sincerity, as revealed on the album’s strongest song, “Why In The World?” The gentle guitar tune finds Cole in a meditative mood. He’s always propped himself up as a hip, modern songwriter. Nevertheless, some of the lines to this particular song suggest that his age might be starting to catch up to him. “Maybe I’m not built for these times/ Maybe I don’t how to live,” he confesses at the end of the song’s chorus. It is, by far, the record’s most touching moment.

If Cole can give us more sincere moments like “Why In The World?” in the future, perhaps he’s not such a broken record after all.

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Publication: Stereo Subversion

Publication date: 11/04/11