BY MICHAEL TOLAND
For his umpteenth album, singer/songwriter Lloyd Cole looks to his past, but not in a nostalgic way. Joined by drummer Fred Maher and bassist Matthew Sweet, who first worked with Cole on his 1990 self-titled LP, and keyboardist Blair Cowan, an original Commotion, the British-born Massachusetts resident makes a record that lines up with his early ‘90s work without shamelessly aping it.
Part of that is simply evolution; few artists in any universe can successfully return to the sound of their youths – age and maturity make it essentially impossible. But working with old friends helps Cole relax, letting his songs flow and soak the listener gradually. That’s not to say that some tracks don’t hit home immediately – the rocking hooks and cheeky wordplay of “Women’s Studies,” “Opposites Day” and “Period Piece” certainly remind us of what first brought attention to Cole in the mid-80s. But Cole’s pals make equally vital contributions to quieter tunes more in line with his later albums, helping “Kids Today,” “Blue Like Mars” and “Diminished Ex” glisten like rivers in the moonlight.
Cole’s gifts have remained consistent for three decades, and if they no longer surprise, they always prove reliable.
DOWNLOAD: “Diminished Ex,” “Woman’s Studies,” “Opposites Day”