An English band which seemed very promising in 1984-1985, when they released their first two albums, Rattlesnakes and Easy Pieces. It's hard to think what genre to lump them into; they were a college radio band (so to speak), but they weren't "punk", they weren't synth-new-wave, and they weren't the Smiths. Cole was always too ironic, self-aware, and funny to be Morrissey. They weren't Echo and the Bunnymen either: They were literate and they could play their instruments. They had hooky, overintellectual songs with clean electric guitars and a keyboard player who leaned towards organ and piano. Their bass player and drummer were both cool, but they never quite seemed to be in the same band. The bass had a fine R&Bish sense of things but the drums were somewhere else and it didn't gel. This is only a minor complaint; they were cool, and the arrangements were detailed and thoughtful. They used a string section on a number of songs, which at the time seemed brave.

I think the closest thing to a "hit" they had (in the very limited mid-1980s college radio sense of "hit") was "Brand New Friend" from Easy Pieces.

After the two albums mentioned above, they slid badly. Lloyd Cole is still alive and well and living in NYC. He just released another less-than-earthshaking solo album this year; I didn't notice whether or not he's still comparing every goddamn single one of the neurotic women (TM) in his songs to old movie actresses. Years ago, he floated to the surface on whatever Matthew Sweet record it was that Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine got exhumed on. But hey, Cole made two damn good records that don't sound dated fifteen years later, and that's a lot more than most of us will ever do.

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