Daily Telegraph, February 17, 1990
ROCK: Tony Parsons is fired by Cole

The magic depressive

History books first mention Lloyd Cole as the most nervous person ever
to appear on “Top of the Pops”. Backed by his band , the Commotions, he
performed his debut single “Perfect Skin” on the show in 1984, and
thought the lyrics were knowing -“She’s been sexually enlightened by
Cosmopolitan” -the boy was scared, his sallow Young Elvis flesh quaking
with first-night nerves. Here was a “Top of the Pops” watcher from way
back and it clearly meant a lot for him to be there. it was a good sign.

Little Lloyd has come a long way, like George Michael, with whom he
now shares some designer stubble, Cole’s maturing process has all been
done in public. Just as George used Wham! as a musical apprenticeship,
so Cole has now ditched his Commotions, and gone grown-up and solo. His
eponymous album sees him coming of age quite gloriously. ” This record
is a lot more first person than the previous ones,” he has said. “These
songs have got beards.”

“Lloyd Cole” is a record of hirsute brilliance. Lloyd has always
been a bookworm in black, but now his lyrics are funnier, crueller, more
capable of being hurt and of lashing out. Over riffs that are often
straight from the Velvet Underground School of Charm -spartan mantras of
Lou Reed’s guitar -Cole broods on the cheating essence of women, the
temporal nature of love, passion’s cruelly fading flame. “Go out and
find your body someone else,” he sneers.

“Gotcha letter baby, the one where you said you’ve been loving me
too long and we should kick it in the head -well, right on.” Being
bitter suits him. “I’m looking for a religious girl with child-bearing
hips.” Aren’t we all, dear.

Cole is currently living in New York and the sound of downtown
permeates this record. It is direct, often funny, rarely polite,
pulsating with a grubby, urban glamour. Even when his music gets a
little lush, it is too firmly rooted in dirty five-chord rock and roll
to ever stray across the border into Adult Orientated Rock.

There are two truly great songs here, songs that will still sound
great early in the next century – “Ice Cream Girl” and “Sweetheart” -but
nowhere in the album is there a truly duff moment. It could be Elvis
Costello with compassion, Morrissey without the provincial weirdness,
and the line, “Your heart’s in the right place, despite what you’re
doing to mine,” recalls Bryan Ferry’s classic “You’re dressed to kill
and guess who’s dying”. But ultimately this is Lloyd Cole all grown up
And very much his own man. From blancmange in his belly to ice in his
veins in six short years.

Cole is currently advertising an almond liqueur with other cult
heroes like Tama “Slaves Of New York” Janowitz and Kid “Coconuts” Creole
and he is probably never going to be big enough to advertise Pepsi or
Diet Coke. But this record establishes him as a singer-songwriter for
the millennium, though he is still a couple of heartbreaks away from
being a genius. As the man sings himself, “You look so good when you’re

Photo caption: No Commotions: the grown-up Lloyd Cole broods brilliantly

Publication: Daily Telegraph

Publication date: February 17, 1990

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