Lloyd Cole Music in a Foreign Language

Five years after his last U.S. release, acclaimed singer-songwriter and guitarist Lloyd Cole has released a stripped-down, acoustic-based album in Music in a Foreign Language that requires rather patient ears. The former leader of the Commotions proves to be a consummate musician, playing guitar, lap steel, piano and arranging all of the strings on this record. As songs such as the title-track, "Cutting Out” and "No More Love Songs” demonstrate, he also proves himself to be no slouch as a lyricist either. Even his decision to record a version of Nick Cave’s "People Ain’t No Good” is an inspired one, revealing Cole’s well-reputed penchant for sardonic songwriting. If the album stumbles it does so because of the one-dimensional shape of the recording as a whole. Virtually every song on Music in a Foreign Language is a low-to-mid-tempo piece that features Cole’s morose, hangdog delivery and bleak and depressing imagery. For diehard fans of Cole’s music, the album may serve as the songwriter’s Blood On The Tracks, but newcomers may wish to check out One Little Indian’s reissues of the long-lost Cole album, Etc. and the ambient Plastic Wood in the next two months, which are downright jaunty by comparison. (One Little Indian)