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Lloyd Cole emerged from Glasgow in 1984 fully formed as the poet laureate of sensitive, serious cynics, awed by both the grandeur of great romance and great books, with perfect skin, pristinely glimmering melodies, and oh yes, that catch-in-your-heart voice. Sixteen years later, Lloyd is one of the few songwriters of that era who still endures working his craft other than the international superstars (U2, REM) or the intriguing oddballs (Morrissey, Paul Westerberg), with a voice as interesting and insightful as ever.

Now, with three new albums coming this year - his first since 1995's acclaimed "Love Story" - and a stepped-up touring schedule - this may well be the time that Lloyd is welcomed into the continuing tradition of the elder statesmen singer/songwriters, the kind like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Richard Thompson, whose work continues to both surprise, yet deepen, with time.

"In the early days of The Commotions, I used to get really upset when someone would call me a singer-songwriter. I'd say, 'No, I'm a writer.' "Ah, snotty kids," Cole says, with a laugh. "But now I'm definitely making claim to being part of a certain tradition. I'm not sure if I'll be accepted yet, but I certainly have an understanding of what I've done for the last 15 years. It's a wide tradition. I include Ray Davies, and I'd include Paul Simon. But I wouldn't include Joy Division or the Pet Shop Boys, as much as I love them. I don't like the term singer-songwriter, but that's what I am."

Only on the first of these three records, Lloyd Cole and the Negatives, Lloyd is not the lone acoustic singer/songwriter, but rather backed by a full-time band - including Jill Sobule and former Dambuilders bassist Dave Derby - for the first time since the Commotions split in 1988. Mixed largely by Stephen Street (Smiths, Blur, Cranberries), the Negatives contains what should be a sure-fire hit among new fans with the infectious "Impossible Girl," and songs like "Past Imperfect," with so many nods to Lloyd's older songs that long-time listeners will delight in spotting the references.

And it all came about almost by accident.