It's been nine years since we last heard from Leonard Cohen — an absence that's sent his rabid cult spiraling into poetically suave withdrawal. Thankfully, the other Man in Black is back from (somehow worse) depression, artistic inertia and monastic seclusion with Ten New Songs, a ghostly soundscape populated by the usual cavalcade of beautiful losers. Only now, with age, the bloody literary machine cuts even deeper; the voice, having succumbed to cigarettes and life, more achingly speaks that unspeakable desolation. "Confined to sex, we pressed against the limits of the sea/I saw there were no oceans left for scavengers like me," he sighs on "A Thousand Kisses Deep." And so it goes: With dim-light instrumentation and the shadowing vocals of longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson, Cohen returns, the undisputed landlord of those dark, damaged places. From the impossible longing of "In My Secret Life" to the sad-bastard boozings of "That Don't Make It Junk," Ten New Songs manages to sustain loss's fragile beauty like never before and might just be the Cohen's most exquisite ode yet to the midnight hour.
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