100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #16 Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Perfect Skin

Released : 1984

If timing is everything, fewer migrations could’ve been more blessed with that gift than Lloyd Cole’s relocation to Glasgow in 1982. Famously a city hobbled by the local council’s dictat that punk bands weren’t allowed to play there, it was by that point already home to the vastly influential Postcard label, whilst along the M8 in Edinburgh impressario Bob Last’s own venture Fast Product was doing something similar for the musical reputation of Auld Reekie.

Cole studied English Literature and Philosophy, but after a first attempt at forming a band went nowhere, dropped out and tried again with The Commotions. At first his analogy heavy lyrics felt like they would swamp their semi-delicate songs, which casually name dropped Simone de Beauvoir, Truman Capote and Grace Kelly, but beyond the pretense their was an elegance along with his eloquence, their sophisticated clip the polar opposite of fledgling American soundalikes R.E.M.

Perfect Skin owed a significant debt to Bob Dylan, with Cole tumbling words out at his siren like sheet poetry thrown up at a far off balcony. It’s real beauty though lay in the effortless simplicity of the parts, with Neil Clark conjuring up the best guitar riff since This Charming Man and a countryfied breakdown that belonged somewhere near a moonshine still. Never the sound of young Scotland, with Perfect Skin The Commotions formed instead a branchline, it’s destination Pop Academia.

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