Lloyd Cole - Mainstream
Never mind what I think - just listen to the music. The opening track, "Mr Malcontent", is both superb and marks a distinct change in style for the band, musically speaking. This track alone makes the album well worth having. Without doubt it is my favourite Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' song. Just listen to the guitar as the song fades out, cascading guitar riffs more reminiscent of the Cure than anything on Rattlesnakes or Easy Pieces.
The remainder of the album is good too, with occasionally great tracks such as "Hey Rusty". Gone were the horns from Easy Pieces, this represented a return to a more organic style of music making for the band. Yet this was the final album put out by Lloyd Cole with the Commotions. The album has a more American feel to it and was clearly an attempt to move towards a larger audience in the States. What is amazing is how it did not succeed. What is perhaps astounding is that this album, more so than any other by the band, has not dated. It still sounds as alive and fulfilling as it did when I first put it onto the turntable all those years ago. It remains a staple on my iPod even now.
The album is a little more rock and less mellow than their previous works. This was the Commotions moving away from their college rock phase and into more, dare I say mainstream rock (is that the meaning behind the title?) And yet the lyrical standard remains high. Lloyd Cole was always a master at creating interesting characters to populate his world, and of telling interesting and captivating stories, true to life, around them. This was as true on Mainstream as before. "Jennifer, She Said" and "Sean Penn Blues" are as interesting for that as can be found anywhere on a Lloyd Cole and the Commotions album. "Hey Rusty" is a beautiful and almost heartbreaking account of someone who misses the frivolity of youth and what he has lost by selling out, and the delivery is perfect. Just listen to the way the storyteller says the line -
"Man, you should've seen their faces"
It is delivered with just the right mixture of sadness and embarrassment - a sort of "see, I can still be crazy after all these years" in desperation at proving his continued worth.
In the end, the three albums the band put out were insufficient to do them full justice. However, on the strength of this, it can be confirmed without a hint of sarcasm that they went out at the top.
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