First, the woundedness. Coates sings lines like "Money's the revenge of the ugly on the beautiful" in a hushed, nicotine-buffed purr, as if he's just recovered from one hangover and is plotting another (with you). But, understanding that bitterness does not a Don Juan make, Coates honeys his tunes with wistful romance. What woman can resist a man who swears, "I love you more as you grow older," or compares their coupling to a 1960s foreign film?
Of course, the genius thing doesn't hurt his chances. Coates' latest sounds like what Serge Gainsbourg might've achieved with Pro Tools and a sampler. Songs such as "The Show Must Go On" and "Heaven Can't Wait" exist concurrently in the past and the present, with Dixieland horns weaving through skittish programmed beats and swirling organs. Elsewhere, there's acoustic French chanson ("La Bete et La Belle"), goofball techno-pop ("Bathtime in Clerkenwell") and a Tom Waits-sings-West Side Story-style weeper ("Someday [Never]," featuring vocals and accordion by the Tiger Lilies' Martyn Jacques).
So now you know Coates' clever ploy. But while you'd be wise not to be wooed by the calculating Mr. Weld, you'd be doubly dumb not to buy his CD.