erasing clouds

Lloyd Cole, Broken Record

review by dave heaton

Four songs into Lloyd Cole's latest LP, there's a song I find myself relating to a lot lately, a sly ballad about feeling out of step with the gadget-oriented society around you: "beam into the future / from the palm of your hand / why in the world would you want to do that?" It's funny, but there's a sad center: "maybe I don't know how to live." The song says he once felt like a normal guy, but no more. The persona of the melancholy, jaded romantic has been Cole's for a long time, though, even back to when he was a youth. If he's aging, he's doing so rather gracefully, without losing the charm or personality of his songwriting. There's consistency here with his past work -- the first song builds that into a joke, "I'm starting to sound like a broken record."

The songs on Broken Record are filled with colorful, very Cole-eque characters, often in rather dire situations -- faded souls sorting through "broken promises, broken dreams, broken marriages". He pokes fun at creative types, people clinging to myths/ideas of who they are, people always on the move, people trying to figure out their lives, people trying and failing to love each other, people longing for ex-lovers from years ago. There's some greater story here about mid-life crises, about men and woman not sure who they should be.

"You know I'm not leaving," he sings on "The Flipside", and as listeners, we hope it's true. It might be singing a broken record, but it still sounds awfully good to me.


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