CD REVIEW: Rattlesnakes (1984), Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
It’s a strange record, this. On one level it’s pretentious twaddle,
with all the overt literary references and big, snobby words, and the
way Cole sets himself up as a sort of learned bohemian wandering
through a charmed life armed only with a cheroot, a Panama hat and an
exotic drink, like Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac and – horror of horrors –
Morrissey. He ponders his difficulties in a heavily laboured manner.
He doesn’t celebrate anything simply. He’s a dandy; he walks the line
between the meanest streets and the cleanest A-list parties.
But then, on another level, it’s brave and funky and delicate, full of
wonderful little moments and, as it turned out listening back to this
through the week after many years apart, full of deep, ingrained
memories of adolescence.
One thing kept happening, however, during these reconciliation
playbacks, and not something I expected or remembered doing in his
company before. Laughter. He’s funny. I mean, did he mean it when he
sang (through his sinuses, in a deep and meaningful way): “Pumped up
full of vitamins/On account of all the seriousness/You say you’re so
happy now/You can hardly stand/Lean over on the bookcase/If you really
want to get straight/Read Norman Mailer/Or get a new tailor.”? The
song is called Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?, and after listening
to it, the answer was, well, yes. I feel primed now. Thanks for that,
I also like Charlotte Street. But only because it’s stupid – a guy is
doing a crossword in The New York Times (of course), when along comes
a mysterious blonde with intense allure, they go back to her place, he
never leaves. In the end, the gorgeous Forest Fire is maybe the only
song on here devoid of irony. It’s about a burning love. Nothing more,
nothing less.

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Publication: The Age

Publication date: 27/08/04