NOW PLAYING: 'ON PAIN' BY LLOYD COLE...
Lloyd Cole is back! My favourite artist in the whole, wide world is back with a brand new album and a new sound which is unnerving initially.
For those unaware, Cole was the frontman of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, a modestly successful indie pop band of the mid-80s. After the band split, Cole went solo and released several critically acclaimed, if not commercially successful, albums.
As the profits dwindled Cole was dropped by his record company and started to self-release. Initially, it was smaller, acoustic and instrumental records then he got a band together to release ‘proper’ albums. These records have slowly evolved from his usual jangly guitar style to this, an electronica album.
I was ok with his old sound so I wasn’t sure what to make of this new direction. My initial impression wasn’t good, to be honest. It wasn’t quite different enough for me to listen to it as a fresh album and it wasn’t Lloyd Cole enough for me to enjoy as a fan.
It is hard to explain, initially, it sounds like an album from an artist who has enlisted Cole as a guest vocalist. It is so far away from his eponymous 1991 solo record that it can barely be compared. Gone are Cole’s usual Velvet Underground guitar influences replaced with Kraftwerk keyboards.
There are still hints of the old sound in tracks like ‘You Are Here Now’ with its power chords under Cole’s electronically distorted vocals. This is in stark contrast to ‘I Can Hear Everything’ which is resplendent with 80’s keyboards and wonky, autotuned vocals which brings everything back to the new sound.
Cole worked with producer Chris Merrick Hughes, who fiddled the nobs on Tears For Fears masterpiece ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ and half the tracks was written with former Commotions bandmates Blair Cowan and Neil Clark, so you can be assured that there is quality on the album and it sounds excellent, it is just the sound, initially, took me aback.
As with any album I guess, the more you listen to it the better it sounds and this grows. ‘Warm By The Fire’ is arguably as good as anything he has released as a solo artist, ‘The Idiot’ is an ode to David Bowie and Iggy Pop and ‘This Can’t Be Happening’ sounds like an electronic haiku.
‘More Of What You Are’ is the first track on the album that I put on repeat, it properly got in my head on Saturday as I was walking in the sun (to the pub!). ‘Wolves’ is a 7-minute epic with gentle howls as part of the chorus which is set to be released as an EP with various remixes including one from Martyn Ware, co-founder of The Human League and Heaven 17.
It is a bold move for Cole to make such a shift with this album, but do you know what, good on him. It would have been really easy to release another small, acoustic record filled with vaguely familiar tracks. Instead, he has created a bold, interesting album that sounds better with each listen.
If you fancy getting on board with this brave new sound, the record can be found all over the place for about £25.
Tracks To Try: ‘Warm By The Fire’, ‘The Idiot’, ‘You Are Here Now’, ‘This Can’t Be Happening’, ‘More Of What You Are’.