|You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here. Who (edit) do you think you're talkin' to?|
IT'S A reflective Lloyd Cole who talks to the Daily Post. Maybe it's the bad flu he suffered with while moving house back home in Massachusetts before he flew into Britain. Maybe the fact he's had to leave his beloved golf clubs at home for this two-week tour of Britain grates too.
(He's had to reluctantly decline an offer from the Daily Post to play West Lancashire golf club in Blundellsands due to the aftereffects of the illness. His Crosby-raised father, a former pupil of Merchant Taylors' school in the town, regularly played the famous links course in his formative years on the way to becoming a club professional.)
Either way, it isn't the same cocksure, archly ironic hipster who fronted Scots pop outfit The Commotions to no little chart success in the 1980s and then embarked on an acclaimed solo career more than a decade ago.
No, rather the married father-of-two celebrates his 43rd birthday at Birkenhead's Pacific Arts Centre tomorrow night with a quieter and more relaxed acoustic show. It will re-examine some of his best known songs from the Commotions years, take in a few choice cover versions while showcasing his most recent solo work.
Derbyshire-born Cole has returned with a reflective album to match his mood: Music in a Foreign Language - his third in four years following The Negatives (2000) and Etc released 18 months ago.
And, for those overwrought college graduates among you wanting to rekindle university years and hoping for slavish recreations of Commotions-era Cole, there comes a warning: this album and live show aren't nostalgia fests.
Music in a Foreign Language is a departure for Cole.
The clever word play, great songs and fine singing which typified Commotions tracks like 'Perfect Skin' and 'Lost Weekend', are still present, it's just that the music now is, well, a bit more bleak, world weary and grown up - a lot like the man himself.
Distanced from the big successes and major labelbacking,Cole has produced an album that is often stark and much more minimalistic than any previous offerings. These are songs about failure in love and life, set to haunting acoustic and piano arrangements, minor key examinations in the nature of life, almost cinematic in their sweep.
But Cole is quick to dismiss fears of amid -life crisis collection.
He says: "I was just interested in making a record that I wanted to make.
`"I just wasn't interested in being ironic anymore, I wasn't interested in just writing a clever song, I suppose I was just more interested in confronting demons.
"I was thinking a lot about the idea of leaving a legacy and the ideaof just because you write something and make an album that it will live on after you.
"And I don't know that it will, or that many of us will be rembered. Maybe Elvis Costello will still be remembered in 50 years. But you know play your CDs in 20 years time and they probably won't work. So the whole thing is transient."
Before anyone can level the accusation of a mid-life crisis, as Cole himself pointed out at his last Merseyside show at the Liverpool University in 2002, he started writing about mid-life crisis when he was 26-years-of-age with the Commotions' 'Hey Rusty'.
And while Cole has slavishly avoided the nostalgia circuit and big reunion shows, the good news for those of us who do want to see the Commotions again is the band will reform for a special two-night stand later this year.
He will front the original line-up when the band reissues its first album Rattlesnakes to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its original release in 1984. They will play Barrowlands in Glasgow in October followed swiftly by one show at London's Hammersmith Odeon.
But Cole is quick to point out its not a big cash -in on the back of the nostalgic reissue.
He says: "It's being done for the right reasons and it's the right time. Everyone wanted to do it just for fun.
"We are still friends and are only playing the two shows so far, unless someone comes in with offers."
Until then, tomorrow's show at the PacificArts Centre and Music in a Foreign Language should more than fill the gap between now and October.