Lloyd Cole

Etc.

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A self-proclaimed lost album, Lloyd Cole's Etc. is a gentle, charming, and mature collection of demos, covers, and original songs recorded between Love Story and The Negatives. It just might be Cole's most accessible album. Relying heavily on Cole's folksy, country acoustic guitar strumming, Neil Clark's plaintive lap steel guitar work, and Cole's perfectly subtle and introspective vocals, Etc. is remarkably cohesive for a release that just narrowly escaped never seeing the light of day. Much of the album takes on a similar haunted air to that of the Lilac Time's stellar Looking for a Day in the Night. Though the album comes across as sort of a melancholic, pastoral adult lullaby, Cole fills the cracks and crevices with his pensive delivery of lyrics that are far more optimistic than those on his earlier, more sarcastic albums. If he's slightly more upbeat, Cole still hasn't lost his singular abilities to turn a phrase or whip up memorable hooks at will. Any number of these 14 songs would seem perfectly at home on an updated greatest-hits collection. "Old Enough to Know Better" is most likely a bit of self-therapy; it's closing refrain of "there's no release in this life" is powerful and heartbreaking. The slow-burning "Memphis," a cover of Karen Black's self-penned song from Robert Altman's Nashville, reimagines Cole as a country-pop balladeer. The cover of Bob Dylan's "You're a Big Girl Now" is equally touching. "Alright People" suggests a less wacky Robyn Hitchcock jamming with jangle-meister Johnny Marr, while "Weakness" courts despair with equal amounts of British psychedelia and romantic charm. The demo of "Fool You Are" is nearly too pretty for words. Etc. is an excellent and thoroughly accomplished addition to Lloyd Cole's discography. It's an essential album for Cole's fans and for everyone who appreciates a bit of pop charm in their folk songs.

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