Why I put it on: Singer/songwriter Cole always has something to say when I’m in the mood to actually think about the lyrics.
In the almost 30 years since Lloyd Cole and The Commotions made their final, brilliant record (“Mainstream”), our man Cole has stayed busy with a steady output of just-below-the-radar solo titles. From his initial continuation along the Commotions’ stylistic path to some avant-folk sides, to several classic singer/songwriter musings, Cole has never disappointed by always staying fresh.
However, 2013’s “Standards” stands as a watershed moment. A rock & roll date, first and foremost, Cole arms himself with, among others, Matthew Sweet and Commotions’ keyboardist Blair Cowan. The presence of such strong sidemen gives “Standards” a weight and presence not heard in Cole’s work since 2000’s “The Negatives.” Songs like the rumbling opener “California Earthquake” and the followup “Women’s Studies” confirm that Cole can still rock. Then, the introspective “Period Piece” and “Myrtle Rose” calm things down a bit and remind us what great texture Cole weaves into his work. Finally, “Kids Today” slathers on some tongue-in-cheek, middle-aged complaining while “Diminished Ex” winds things down with bittersweet reflection.
Over the last 12 years or so, Cole has done a zillion European solo-acoustic tours and recorded a truly diverse body of modern folk and “near-rock.” Yet, he hasn’t lost his rock chops, and the melodic power and lyrical eloquence that made the Commotions truly special are alive and well on “Standards.”
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