Lloyd Cole, though he’d never be so gauche as to suggest it himself, has enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2013. He released his new ‘career best’ album ‘Standards’ in the summer. He also found himself with star billing on the UK’s finest music TV show ‘Later With Jools Holland’. He has been playing to sell-out houses across Europe ever since.
Cole plays his first electric shows in a decade in January 2014 and the solo acoustic tour resumes in March.
Recorded in late 2012 to early 2013 in Los Angeles, New York and at his home in Easthampton, Massachusetts, ‘Standards’ is produced by Lloyd and mixed by maverick German producer Olaf Opal. All songs are by Lloyd Cole apart from ‘California Earthquake’, which was written by American folk artist John Hartford.
Inspired in part by the vitality he found in septuagenarian Dylan’s acclaimed 2012 album ‘Tempest’ - says Cole, 52: “I took it as a kick up the backside…” – ‘Standards’ is a gloriously electric rock’n’roll record and arguably the best thing he has made since his groundbreaking debut with the Commotions, 1984’s ‘Rattlesnakes’.
The band Lloyd assembled for ‘Standards’ comprises Fred Maher (Material, Scritti Politti, Lou Reed) on drums and Matthew Sweet on bass reforming the rhythm section from Lloyd’s debut solo album 1990’s ‘Lloyd Cole’ and its follow up ‘Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe’. With Joan (As Police Woman) Wasser on piano/backing vocals, and Lloyd not only singing but playing synths amidst some of the crispest, stormiest, most stinging electric guitar, it’s a tight ship with a tight sound which tautens and relaxes according to the temper of the song. Augmenting the basic band are Lloyd’s son Will, Mark Schwaber and Matt Cullen on guitars, Commotions keyboardist Blair Cowan, percussionist Michael Wyzik and backing vocalist and Negative Dave Derby.
Says Lloyd: “I wanted to make an album with a small fixed palette of sounds, like a Van Gogh, like ‘Highway 61’. The album format is supposedly dead, but I still want to make them. Not bunches of songs - albums. For the last 10 years I’ve been primarily an acoustic musician but this is an album for electric guitars, electric bass and loud drums, with piano and a synthesizer for measure. Not quite monochrome, then, but not ever-changing either: it has a unique identity - a sound."
WHAT THE PAPERS ARE SAYING ABOUT ‘STANDARDS’
“…a rocking, reinvigorated return…terrific” 8/10 UNCUT July 2013
"...captivating!" 4* MOJO July 2013
“effortless craftsmanship from a gifted storyteller.” Q July 2013
“‘Standards’ is the work of a bristling, alive and fresh-as-a-daisy master, drawing on all of his experience for a mid-life career high.” 4* Daily Mirror 21 June 2013
“…a sound replete with twisting, cyclical guitar lines and tints of keyboards… there’s a confidence and flexibility to his disparate themes…may be his best album.” The Independent I 21 June 2013
“…- like when Dylan went electric…it’s not a fanciful comparison – Cole’s lyrics are profoundly poetic and linked to some glorious tunes….terrific.” 4* Alan Johnson MP, BIG ISSUE 17-23 June ‘2013
“…pop rock swagger….with a lyric as seductive as ever…” 4*
The Independent On Sunday 23 June 2013
“…a vibrant set full of wry wordplay.” 4* Mail On Sunday 23 June 2013
“…a fine advertisement for approaching the act of writing in a more contemplative way….wonderfully wry…self-knowing lyrics….a plangent beauty…” Sunday Times 23 June 2013
“…ruminative, erudite, rueful…the rockiest thing he has done, but still very Lloyd Cole.” Mail On Sunday, 9 June ‘13
“…gloriously, pertinently verbose…career-best…” 4* Record Collector, July 2013
“…a timeless classic.” 5* Classic Pop July/Aug 2013
ABOUT THE CONCERTS
“…a little less commotion, but still a legend… just his acoustic guitar and a two-hour set of gorgeous pop songs…” Bristol Post 6 Nov ‘13
“His voice is still beautiful. It sounds like threadbare velvet, stretched but rich at the same time…His lyrics are full of lust and longing, never overly romantic, but enough for you to realise that they come from a deeply complex man.” GodIsInTheTV 13 Nov ’13
AND THE CAREER
“Hors Catégorie.” Magic (France) October ’13