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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is anybody writing better love songs than Nick Lowe?

The upcoming Nick Lowe album The Old Magic" starts with a song called "Stoplight Roses". I'd never heard that particular expression before but I immediately knew what he was singing about. Many years ago a good friend who was out there in the dating game said to me, "Better no flowers than garage flowers". She said it feelingly. I have since passed on this advice to young men of my acquaintance.

The last few Nick Lowe albums are like a series of slim novels which explore the perfidious inclinations of men. I think they're some of the best pop records ever made. They're certainly some of the most affecting explorations of regret since Frank Sinatra's "lonely" albums of the 1950s. The men in Nick Lowe's songs reach for romantic gestures when cornered but generally underestimate how rigorously those gestures might be interpreted.

The key line in "Stoplight Roses" is especially chilling. "You've broken something this time," he sings, "stoplight roses can't mend".