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  Listen Up! 5/20/04 Listen Up!

Thursday, May 20

Lloyd Cole, “Plastic Wood,” One Little Indian Records. Presumably, Lloyd Cole isn’t abandoning his career as a pop songsmith of the first order, but he’s taking a serious side-trip on this new record. Look, I love Brian Eno as much as the next airport visitor, but not just anybody can do this stuff. Eno either completely abandons melody in favor of quiet repetition, or he delivers exquisite little tunes which throb and hum their way into your brain. Cole, however, either gives us lame little melodic fragments, or he attempts to achieve quiet introspection through boring keyboard sounds. I sympathize with the plight of a musician who wants to follow his muse into something entirely different, even if I don’t like it, but what will the average Lloyd Cole fan, not that there are so many of them, think of this? The only reason anybody will buy this is because of his name, and now his name won’t be worth what it was before.

Fastball, “Keep Your Wig On,” Rykodisc. Well, a few years ago, these guys rode the success of “The Way” to a career which guarantees them appearances at the less interesting clubs for years to come. Which means that that song was really cool, the album that it was on was okay, and nothing else before or since has attracted any attention from either casual fans or critics. So, I listened to the new record, and it’s a bad sign to note that it was over for maybe twenty minutes before I realized it had stopped. A couple of songs had bouncy melodies, but mostly, Fastball remains the kind of band that used to be a lot more common. They aren’t that bad, they aren’t that good, they’re just rocking enough to get by.

--Steve Pick

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