As the title suggests, Lloyd Cole's new full length delivers 11 songs that delicately mix sadness with a revitalized happiness. A cult fave for 20 years, Lloyd Cole's lyrical gifts are always on full display, with the New York Times observing on a recent Cole live set, "playing songs by Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen among his own, he tactfully demonstrated that his work could stand alongside theirs..." Lloyd cole fans both new and old will agree that 'Antidepressant' serves as a proud addition to his discography.He is aging gracefully, his voice and style is holding up well, and he looks like he could be my slightly older brother, with an extra 20 pounds. Or PalmPilot's brother. (sorry Anne, couldn't help myself)
Cole's previous album, 2003's acclaimed 'Music In A Foreign Language' was the result of the singer honing an acoustic set around the world, written over the course of 5 years and revealing Cole as a consummate folk guitarist and a sharp observer of the onset of mid-life. Cole's seminal group The Commotions reunited, briefly, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of 'Rattlesnakes', and then it was back to Cole's New England hideaway to start work on a new album.
"I sat down and realized that all the musical ideas I had were considerably jauntier than I wished they were - it kind of annoyed me," laughs Cole. "But you can't decide how creativity hits you and a lot of the ideas were, ironically, the kind of songs that maybe a band like The Commotions would have done."
Working largely alone - Cole plays drums, guitar and keyboards on Antidepressant - he planned to follow Tom Waits' modus operandi, setting aside four months to write and record the album. "My four months ending up being 18! It was exciting and draining at the same time, but half way through I knew I had the sound that I wanted, an amalgam of electronic and acoustic sounds," he says, adding, "looking back, perhaps I bit off more than I could chew on my own...it was difficult being producer and musician. I certainly won't do that again!"
Despite the arduous recording process, 'Antidepressant' contains some of Cole's best work to date. The gorgeous, string-driven 'NYC Sunshine' evoking streets full of "junkies and millionaires", the gentle acoustic thrum of 'How Wrong Can You Be?', the stock market palare of 'The Young Idealists' and the lyrically poignant 'Woman In A Bar', "...no longer driven to distraction, not even by Scarlett Johansson."
Former Commotion, Neil Clark, provides slide guitar along with contributions from Kevin O'Rourke, Hurcules' Peter Baldwin, Jill Sobule, Dave Derby and the string arrangements of King Radio's Dave Trenholm.
The album's title is another double-edged sword, as Lloyd explains. "Well an antidepressant is a pill that makes you feel better, but the existence of an antidepressant signifies the existence of depression."
Cole sums up the themes of this new record by observing, "the songs I'm writing these days tend to be about mid-life," he concludes. "I've always felt the music that I do works in the same way as blues or country music, in that you generally sing about things not going that well. It helps people get over things like that in their lives and somehow find enjoyment or closure on some issues. I get that listening to Tindersticks or Tom Waits and I know that's the area of music that I'm in. It's unlikely that I'll be writing for the Ronettes anytime soon."
Having played South Africa for the first time recently - where Cole survived being bitten on his strumming arm by a lion ("well it only needs to hold a pick") - Lloyd will be touring the US to promote "Antidepressant" in November and December.
As a side-bar; I think I have found Chap's new girlfriend. More of her here and here.