Cole keeps standards high with nod to '70s New York
Album Review: Lloyd Cole Standards (Tapete) 4 STARS
Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of Rattlesnakes – one of the all-time great debuts from a British band. While its author, Lloyd Cole, has long since parted company with The Commotions, his ability to pen hyper-literate songs has not dimmed all these years later.
Where his last album was a low-key folk-tinged acoustic affair, Standards is all about electric guitars, snappy arrangements and some of the smartest lyrics he has penned in aeons.
By tapping into that highly fertile New York scene of the late 1970s – from Talking Heads to Television – Cole appears reenergised as he doffs his hat at culture old and new.
And there are lyrical nods to a host of American names including Blondie, Iggy Pop and Bob Dylan.
(Incidentally, Cole has said that his recent burst of creativity is down to the inspiration he gleaned on first hearing Dylan's most recent album, Tempest.)
While some of his more contemporary releases felt like the work of a solo artist, Standards is very much about the crack team he has assembled. Among the players are bassist Matthew Sweet, Joan Wasser (of Joan as Police Woman-fame) on piano and backing vocals and his son Will, who plays a mean guitar.
That team effort is very much apparent on the intriguing Women's Studies – which was apparently inspired by Miles Davis' paintings of his wife's behind – and on the opener, California Earthquake.
The latter is the album's only cover, although Cole's beguiling version is remarkably different to the one recorded by the Mamas and the Papas in the 1970s.
KEY TRACKS Women's Studies; California Earthquake