Release Date: Oct 14, 2014
Record label: Omnivore
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Lloyd Cole is a British musician living in America, so there’s some irony in that it’s taken over a year for his latest album Standards to be released in the US, having been available in Europe since June 2013, but better late than never. Perhaps to make up for this, Omnivore Records have released a limited clear vinyl as well as a CD version for the American market. At the time of the European launch of Standards, Cole admitted he felt marginalised by the recording industry, and hinted that perhaps this could be his last attempt at a traditional, commercial release.
We’re all wearily habituated of the default PR staple suggesting that an artiste’s new record is “his best since the last best album”: but in this instance, damn us to Helsinki and back if it ain’t true. Cole was apparently galvanised by Dylan’s Tempest album, reasoning that if the Zim could produce something so vibrant at the age of 72, then it was surely incumbent upon Cole to quit prevaricating and don his songwriting trews anew. Standards, therefore, is gloriously, pertinently verbose, slurping like a horse from the wellspring of inspiration.
After a decade spent issuing mostly acoustic singer/songwriter offerings, Lloyd Cole returns to rock & roll proper with Standards. This 11-song set was crowd-funded and recorded in Los Angeles, New York, and Massachusetts. Cole enlists the help of old friends in his rhythm section: bassist Matthew Sweet, drummer Fred Maher, and former Commotions' keyboardist Blair Cowan, and features appearances by Joan "As Police Woman" Wasserman and her guitarist son Will.
Lloyd ColeStandards(Omnivore)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Much is being made of this as a return to plugged in rocking after nearly a decade of softer, or as Lloyd Cole calls them, more “age appropriate” releases. Partially inspired by Dylan’s tougher approach on 2012’s Tempest, Cole rounded up some of the same musicians he used on his earliest, and hardest rocking 90’s albums (the duo of Material/Lou Reed drummer Fred Maher and bassist Matthew Sweet, taking a break from his own frontman activities, serves as this disc’s sturdy rhythm section) to tackle this 11 song set. While the results are impressive, only about a third rocks in the traditional sense, and even those songs are more tense and restrained than wild volume and guitar solo enhanced blow-outs.
Good news: Lloyd Cole is back to electric-guitar rock for the first time in a while. He’s also letting loose his inner Bob Dylan, admittedly influenced by Dylan’s 2012 album, “Tempest.” The result is an intelligent pop-rock album that ranks with some of Cole’s best work. A Briton who lives in Easthampton these days, Cole reunites here with Fred Maher (Lou Reed, Scritti Politti) and Matthew Sweet, and adds his son, Will, on guitar.