Broken RecordAlbum | Lloyd Cole By Jim Allen
Countrified, consistently tuneful self-loathing
“Not that I had that much dignity left anyway” is one of the best opening lines to an album in recent memory. Besides serving notice that after 26 years in the game, Lloyd Cole still sharpens his pen to an immaculately self-lacerating point, it offers a hint at the prevailing mood of the rather appropriately titled Broken Record. The album is divided between low-key, lonesome-sounding, acoustic ballads, and moderately more (musically) upbeat tracks where Cole’s old Commotions-era keyboardist Blair Cowan, Joan “As Policewoman” Wasser, her old Dambuilders bandmate Dave Derby, and longtime Cole cohort Fred Maher help create a more solidified “band” feel. While Cole’s latter-day discography is far from unaccustomed to quiet, spare-sounding tunes, there’s more of countrified feel to Broken Record than anything in the Derbyshire troubadour’s past; not conventional country, mind you: more like Kris Kristofferson’s-brainy-British-nephew country. Cole remains as literate – even bookish – a lyricist as ever (the title of “Writer’s Retreat” is no mere metaphor), and he spends much of the album examining the dangerous “flipside of that gentle, melancholy feeling” where introspection curdles into a kind of stoic, but consistently tuneful self-loathing. Don’t worry, it’s all a lot more fun than that might sound.