Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – ‘Rattlesnakes’

So, I was working in Discus, a ‘trendy’ menswear boutique, and I was shopping for clothes in Bizarre Bazaar, a grubby, dishevelled, glorious palace of second-hand clobber. My boss said I should smarten up in the shop’s trendy togs, saying I looked like a beatnik, which made me a very happy man. Job done, considering my influence of sixties style and culture was now mixed with a new roll-necked songster.

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions’ Rattlesnakes was a huge influence musically, lyrically, and in the album’s all-encompassing fragrance and melancholy. It oozed masculine sensitivity, referencing a host of style and literary icons, which as an all too easily influenced 18 year-old fed my intrigue massively. I related to Lloyd Cole’s visually shy and faintly awkward persona, whilst his lyrics were clearly that of a deep-thinker, beautifully gushing what it felt like to be a young romantic.

“She’s got cheekbones like geometry and eyes like sin and she’s sexually enlightened by Cosmopolitan.” – Perfect Skin

At the time, Prefab Sprout’s Swoon was another gem of an album; musically exquisite, though with lyrics bordering on ‘trying too hard’, it was Rattlesnakes that was far more personally relatable. Lloyd Cole’s songs read like books, teeming with cultural references urging exploration, wrapped in such genuine timelessness that any accusation of pretentiousness is instantly dismissed.

Reaching a lofty No.65 in the Top 40 singles chart in late ’84, musically and lyrically Rattlesnakes is bordering on perfection…

Jodie wears a hat although it hasn’t rained for six days
She says a girl needs a gun these days
Hey on account of all the rattlesnakes

She looks like Eve Marie saint in On The Waterfront
She reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance

She’s less than sure if her heart has come to stay in San Jose
And her never-born child still haunts her
As she speeds down the freeway
As she tries her luck with the traffic police
Out of boredom more than spite
She never finds no trouble, she tries too hard
She’s obvious despite herself

She looks like Eve Marie Saint in On The Waterfront
She says all she needs is therapy, yeah
All you need is, love is all you need

Jodie never sleeps ’cause there are always needles in the hay
She says that a girl needs a gun these days
Hey on account of all the rattlesnakes

She looks like Eve Marie Saint in on the waterfront
As she reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance
Her heart, heart’s like crazy paving
Upside down and back to front
She says “ooh, it’s so hard to love
When love was your great disappointment.”

Rattlesnakes was the band’s finest work. Their two following albums, whilst being hugely playable and achieving higher chart success, lacked Rattlesnakes’ romance and emotional impact. The closer Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? squeezed out the last drops of an album loaded with depth and sentiment, an album which, like many other sensitive souls, seemed like it was released with me in mind.

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