Do The Wry Thing

Cynical, articulate UK singer-songwriter sends home thoughts from abroad

Trending Now

Even when he was singing about supermodels with perfect skin circa 1984, Lloyd Cole always sounded like a man standing by the door with a notebook. These days he’s happily ensconced in New England, as opposed to Old Blighty, and sings lines like, “Just another bunch of would-be desperadoes/Failing to pace themselves against the grain.” Age hasn’t withered Cole’s cynicism at the music business modus operandi, it’s just given him a more world-weary sense of distance and disbelief.

Significantly, Cole replaced his Commotions with a band called the Negatives?very New York?and adopted a darker persona, one that’s happier to linger in those shadows again. If we put aside the Negatives’ 1999 disc, and a demos and rarities set from 2001 called Etc, this is actually Lloyd’s first solo record in eight years.

Mid-life crises seem to have been dealt with, however, replaced by mid-life wisdom. Much as he loves Lou Reed’s Berlin, echoing its moods several times during songs like “Today I’m Not So Sure”, “Cutting Out” and “My Other Life”, Cole’s too self-analytical to sink into self-pity. A career hypochondriac, he still deals with his malaise by using the aspirin of melody and lyric in the title track.

Refreshingly downbeat, like the criminally unknown Christian Gibbs, Cole has decided to pursue his troubadour folk and country-ish direction here. Guitars are plangent, while lap-steel, muted strings and pianos filter through, and even the songs about faux modern pop, drug abuse and wasted love don’t veer into dreary melancholy.

A cover of Nick Cave’s “People Ain’t No Good” simply fits in rather than standing out, mainly because Music In A Foreign Language doesn’t require a dictionary. It’s a modest proposal from someone who never wanted to be on-message.

Advertisement

Latest Issue

Bruce Springsteen, Uncut’s Review Of 2021, Jason Isbell, Yasmin Williams, Jonny Greenwood, The Weather Station, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, the Beach Boys, The Coral, and Marvin Gaye
Advertisement

Features

Yasmin Williams: “I wanted to imagine things getting better”

Released in January, Yasmin Williams’ mesmerising album Urban Driftwood respected the old traditions of folk music but simultaneously made fresh currency out of them. Stephen Deusner meets Williams in Nashville to map the course of her incredible year since – and her plans for 2022. “I’m pretty optimistic about the future,” she says. “At least, way more than I was a year ago…”
Advertisement