Lloyd Cole – Guesswork – Album Review
by Killian Laher
These days there seem to be longer intervals between Lloyd Cole albums. It’s been six years since his last song-based output, Standards. He has alternated in recent years between singer-songwriter pop and instrumental electronic albums. On Guesswork he attempts to marry the two, largely without his trademark jangly guitars, and it feels like a bridge too far.
First, the good: the songs where Lloyd strips it down work best. Opening track The Over Under creeps into focus gradually, with sparse, nocturnal Eno-like keyboards, building very slowly into something of a soaring tune. It’s the strongest track and if the rest of the album followed this template, it would certainly be something of a success. Remains, equally has attractive glacial drift and lyrics questioning “how are we to stay and not just float away above the city?”. The Afterlife has hints of David Sylvian, and the sluggish (in a good way) closer The Loudness Wars uses sparingly twanged guitars and gentle beats to make a decent impression.
Unfortunately, tracks like the strident Night Sweats and Violins, the latter strongly reminiscent of Lionel Richie’s Dancing On The Ceiling, something we surely don’t need another of. The plink-plonk keyboards of Moments and Whatnot and When I Came Down From The Mountain are cheesey at best
His voice is still in decent shape but doesn’t fit well with the overly busy tracks.
Clearly he meant well, and half of it works, aiming for the kind of grandeur that The Blue Nile excelled at. But it’s too patchy, the uptempo tracks don’t work, and it’s unlikely to ever be any Lloyd Cole fan’s favourite album.
Track List –
1. The Over Under
2. Night Sweats
5. The Afterlife
6. Moments and Whatnot
7. When I Came Down From The Mountain
8. The Loudness Wars