Lloyd Cole - Antidepressant
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Ah, Lloyd, a hero of my youth, who namedropped cultural and literary figures the way social media influencers namedrop products they are plugging, but with infinitely more style. As the names poured out of my stereo, teenage JO’B would head off to look up who these people were. When Lloyd later went mean and moody, I grew my hair, attempted stubble, like a poor ginger tribute act...not a high point for me...
But my love for Lloyd prevails, even if my need to mimic his look does not (that I am gradually turning grey as he has is purely coincidence...). The former Commotion has been ploughing his solo career since 1989, now based in the US. Though the financial returns have declined, the quality never has. Each album is consistently great. From living out his Lou Reed/Television dreams, to indulging his inner Frank Sinatra to stripped down folk, to even experiments with electronica.
Released in 2006, Antidepressant is his more country folk music side, but more expansive than its stripped down predecessor, Music In A Foreign Language. Released at the lowest point of his career in terms of record and ticket sales, it’s the album Lloyd least rated, until it came to this reissue. He can now see how good it is - I’ve always thought it was fab.
Woman In A Bar’s “No longer driven to distraction...not even by Scarlett Johansson” reassures Lloyd is on form, if a tad world weary, still name dropping with such style. As Lloyd sings “you’re so lazy”, he could almost be describing the album’s mood; it rarely goes beyond an almost languid, laid back pace, but it has real moments of beauty.
The Young Idealists is a standout, his voice in fine fettle, as ever, with shuffling drums, gentle guitars as he describes the young idealists selling out - “Raging through the coffee shops and bars/ Make believe the world was really ours/ Still supposing we could make a difference/ Then we bought into the neocon economic dream/ And we were trading in futures we believed in." It sets the mood for the album, downbeat and contemplative.
The title track, with its slide guitar and (almost) rousing beat, is one of the only moments when the pace picks up, channelling his inner Lou again - “with my medication I will be fine”. Elsewhere, it’s gentle guitars, occasional strings and piano.
Everysong and Travelling Light sort of pick up the pace briefly, each with a country shuffle. It closes with Rolodex Incident, with interweaving guitar and piano, melancholically recalling a lost love and accepting the need to move on.
It’s a great album, and the reissue is superb, beautifully packaged with an extra 7 inch to accommodate the unreleased Coattails. My only niggle, it would have really benefitted from a couple of more upbeat tracks, but Lloyd rediscovered that side of his writing on later albums such as Broken Record and Standards. But 15 years on, the album holds up well, I can’t wait to finally see him again, with the Commotions' Neil Clark at Cadogan Hall later this year when gigs return.