Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
Lloyd Cole returns to the gold standard
on 2 September 2013
Here's an old-fashioned idea: get a brilliant songwriter to record some great new songs with top quality guitar, bass and drums, and then release them as an excellent, well-sequenced 40-minute album that stands on its own two feet as a coherent artistic statement. I know, it's SO last century. But this hasn't stopped Lloyd Cole from having a go, and with 'Standards' he's come up with an absolute treat for all us rockin' mums and dads. This is quite simply as good an album as he's ever made. For those of us who bobbed our floppy fringes along to 'Rattlesnakes' in the Student Union bar, these songs are recognisably cut from the same cloth but, remarkably, the sound has matured and deepened without putting on a single scrap of middle-age spread.
Musically, the 'heavier' numbers here ('Blue Like Mars', 'California Earthquakes') are given some real punch and crunch by Fred Maher's drumming and Matthew Sweet's bass work, while Cole himself provides some decent guitar licks. Meanwhile the more gentle and melancholy numbers are handled with poise and delicacy. 'Myrtle and Rose' is the pick of them for me - a beautifully bittersweet melody, and a lyric as dark as a Nick Cave song. "The longer you were gone, the less the longing" is its two-edged sign-off. It's a great track, but the rest of the album runs it close.
Part of the charm of Lloyd's song-writing is that it remains as self-consciously arch as ever. He still can't help poking fun at his own nerdy intelligence. As an example, the lyrics of 'Womens Studies' reference tea-drinking, bachelors degrees and dissertations, and include a contrived joke that requires knowledge of Kafka and early '80s Scottish post-punk bands to be remotely funny. Rock and ROLL!!
There'll always be a niche for witty, literate powerpop, and with 'Standards' Lloyd Cole stands at its very apex. (Can a niche have an apex? Ah.. you know what I mean) Bottom line: this is a brilliant record by an artist at the very top of his game.