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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe public's first taste of Lloyd Cole came during his time fronting The Commotions throughout the 1980s, which was a period punctuated by a literary songwriting style over alternative/indie pop instrumentation. From the 1990s through now, the Englishmen's operated as a solo artist, turning more sardonic as a writer and acoustic in texture.
On his current tour supporting the individual offering *Broken Record* (Tapete Records), he took to the trio format, strapping on a guitar and finding additional (albeit sparse) accompaniment from another pair of six string slingers. It might not have produced the wall of sound generated during his full band years, but the stripped down setting allowed Cole's greatest asset to shine through, which was simply his storytelling through smart song craft.
From the suave and debonair groove of "No Blue Skies," to the sunny ode to starting over "Don't Look Back" and the foot stomping "So You'd Like To Save the World," the veteran's purebred pop sensibility had no trouble translating to today. Though the newer "My Other Life" was laidback and ethereal in nature, it still possessed Cole's left of center charm and magnetism.
In fact, the troubadour's current cuts were just as strong as his treasured back catalogue, which considering 2006's Antidepressant was a real sleeper, served as a welcome surprise. There as plenty of wit and infectiousness strewn throughout "Like a Broken Record," "If I Were a Song" and "Man Overboard," while the immediate "Writers Retreat!" helped connect the dots with his younger years.
Of course, the evening wouldn't have been complete without a nod to The Commotions and Cole obliged on several occasions. Even though he turned 50 at the top of this year, his voice remains virtually identical to those records, while passionate delivery permeated "Perfect Skin," "Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?" and the underground classic "Rattlesnakes." Though Cole has yet to become a household name, he continues to rack up credibility with those in the know, leaving everyone from those who've referenced his work (Tori Amos, Camera Obscura) to the average Chicago area fan still singing his praises.
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