Whatever it is Lloyd Cole does all day, it doesn't involve coming up with radical shifts in artistic direction. Music in a Foreign Language
, Cole's first album since 1995's excellent Love Story
, is of a piece with the six he produced in rather more productive decades before that: Music in a Foreign Language
is another collection of deftly written, wryly observed and balefully sung ballads by a consistently fine songwriter. It also includes what is, for Cole, a rare foray into interpretation, with a version of Nick Cave
's "People Ain't No Good".
Music in a Foreign Language is at least distinguishable from its predecessors in approach, if not style: Cole made the album at home, forsaking the studio for his Apple Mac. Just as his contemporary Roddy Frame did on his superb Surf, Cole has built these songs around his voice and acoustic guitar, with a minimum of instrumental embellishments. It's something Cole should have done before now--though as literate and clever as ever, he sounds much less knowing and arch than previously, like a man who has learnt the difference between confessing and merely telling tales. --Andrew Mueller
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