Lloyd Cole remains cryptic when “describing” his new single “Warm By the Fire,” much less any of his songs. The lead single from his 12th solo album, On Pain, out June 23, “Warm By the Fire” is a testament to Cole’s deeper lyrical palette, coaxing some universal themes through his abstract filter.
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We got dead television pyres / Scraping up to the sky / Monuments to our ingenuity / We got our mojo working / We got kerosene working / Behold the fruits of our industry sings Cole, foraging around more troublesome times through chorus. Flames rising / The law hides in fear / Cars burning / Mob surging near / It’s warm by the fire.
Ignited by imbalances and inequalities, “Warm By the Fire” might just be a more provoking piece, like something out of a J.G. Ballard novel — or not. “Sure, it could be a Ballard story, or it could be a discarded script,” said Cole in his YouTube descriptor. “It could be a VR [virtual reality] game the protagonist is immersed in. It could be happening. It could happen, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it won’t.”
Written by Cole during the pandemic and produced by Chris Merrick Hughes, On Pain fuels some of the bewilderment around the ongoing social and political climate.
As the music started formulating around “Warm By the Fire,” Cole admitted that Hughes’ counsel on each track was necessary as the songs came together. “It really was very difficult to find something for that music,” Cole tells American Songwriter. “I tried so many different things, and I eventually hit on the basic idea of what became the song. I sent it to Chris one night, and then the following morning, I sent him another email saying, ‘Don’t even listen to that rubbish,’ and he said, ‘No, I’ve listened to it already, and it’s not rubbish. This is it. You’ve got it.’”
Cole added, “I’m happy we got where we did with ‘Warm By the Fire. It’s nice to have a slightly more aggressive piece for a change.”
When Cole’s son first heard the song, he said it sounded like David Bowie. “He said, ‘It sounds like something Bowie would do,’” shared Cole. “I was like, ‘Really? Okay, that’s cool.’ You don’t really hear that in your own work.”
Recorded at Cole’s attic studio The Establishment in Easthampton, Massachusetts, On Pain also features four tracks, co-written with his former Commotions bandmates Neil Clark and Blair Cowan, who also perform on the album.
Sonically, the eight-track album is a continuation of Cole’s 2019 release Guesswork, which explored more electronic soundscapes.
“I’m excited to still be finding new methods, new perspectives, new sounds,” says Cole. “The album may be nearing commercial death, but my career has been in that state for almost 30 years and here we are, still, and I still want to make albums. I still want to be heard.”
Cole is also releasing a total of four remixes of the closing track “Wolves,” with two released before and pair after the release of On Pain. The previously released remixes include one by Cole (“Red Star Mix“) and another by London sound engineer Charles Stooke and Martyn Ware, co-founder of The Human League and Heaven 17, entitled “LycanthroMix.”
The additional two remixes, following the release of On Pain, include one by producer Hughes and another by Mogwai’s Barry Burns.
Cole is also set to embark on a European and UK tour this fall, which is scheduled to run from October 6 through 31.
On Pain Track List
- “On Pain”
- “Warm By The Fire”
- “I Can Hear Everything”
- “The Idiot”
- “You Are Here Now”
- “This Can’t Be Happening”
- “More Of What You Are”
Photos: Mark Dellas / Courtesy of Vicious Kid PR