And in this exhibit we have the lion in winter. Of the genus singerus songwriterus, this particular animal doesn’t age well, as witnessed recently by Aimee Mann’s insipid idea that it somehow might be a good thing to release a Christmas album. Nothing says winter is coming down harsh on your career quite like that.
But here we have the male of the species, Lloyd Cole. His better days with his old band, the Commotions, were memorialized in one of 2006’s best songs, Camera Obscura’s “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken.” If even one song on Cole’s latest, Antidepressant, was as catchy and fun as that song, that would be a starting point for some praise. Sadly, though, there’s nothing much to like here.
Cole makes no attempt to hide the fact that he’s not getting any younger. Opener “The Young Idealists” bemoans his generation’s loss of radical fervor. It also makes the odd attempt to conflate personal relationship problems with bigger world dilemmas, with the song’s talk of neo-con agendas and financial markets. Similar name-dropping of headline items comes back in “How Wrong Can You Be?” and “Slip Away,” where Cole sings to a fading love, “I propose an exit strategy.” Really, Lloyd? You’re going to compare breaking up with a girl to the quagmire in Iraq? Yikes.
“Woman in Bar” has Cole trying to tell a short story with the title character as protagonist, but it never really goes anywhere. Bringing up the bogeyman of age again, Cole sings, “No longer young/ No longer driven by distraction/ Not even by Scarlett Johansson.” And “NYC Sunshine” would work perfectly as theme song to a shitty rom-com by the same name. Treacly. Very treacly.
Only on the title track does Cole show some of the wit he seemed to use to have in spades. He laments, “I’ve got a license to fly/ Underneath the radar” and namedrops yindie cultural staples No Depression magazine and Six Feet Under.
Poor animal, Lloyd is. Seems like all his career he’s been trying to get out from under the shadow of that other singer of the same genus who shares his initials. But Antidepressant isn’t going to have anyone confusing Lloyd Cole with Leonard Cohen.