WHO IS HE? The revered British singer-songwriter who led The Commotions for most of the ’80s before backing away from pop stardom for the artistic freedom of a lower-profile solo career that continues evolving to this day.
WHAT IS THIS? His 11th studio release and his second to emphasize keyboards, electronics and superbly crafted pop over the riffy guitar-rock jangle he made his name with back in the day.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Different than what old fans are likely expecting, of course. But also deeper and more layered than they might be anticipating — while all the machines add a cooler edge to the proceedings, Cole’s cracked croon, forthright and pithy lyrics about life and aging — “I’m a complicated motherfucker,” he rightly proclaims at one point — and his tastefully restrained guitar work keep things on somewhat familiar and approachable turf.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Keys to Success. Or maybe Causing A New Commotion.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? On a playlist with his likeminded 2015 album 1D.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Risky, expansive, delicate, rich, pulsing, ruminative, soulful, quiet, bittersweet, deep.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Opening cuts The Over Under and Night Sweats set the tone for the 44-minute disc.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘This is interesting and all, but it would be great if he made another rock album next.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Depends how interested you are in hearing new sounds from old favourites.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A PICTURE, WHAT KIND OF PICTURE WOULD IT BE? A self-portrait painted on an iPad.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? If you’re not already a fan, don’t guess — play it safe and start with a stream.