It doesn’t get darker than this. Though leonard cohen had already established himself as the doyen of doom with his first two albums, his third, ‘songs of love and hate’, finds him kicking off the 1970s with the sharpest repudiation of the ’60s peace-and-love / flower-power ethic the world had yet seen from the ‘sensitive troubadour’ corner of the music map. Though it’s not really a concept album, ‘songs of love and hate’ feels like a guided tour through one man’s battle-scarred love life. The utter emotional degradation of ‘avalanche,’ the suicidal frenzy of ‘dress rehearsal rag,’ and the bitter regret of ‘last year’s man’ all sound like stops on the same ill-fated journey. The arrangements are wisely based around cohen’s world-weary voice and hypnotic acoustic-guitar patterns, with occasional orchestrations rising like dark clouds in the background. Possibly cohen’s finest album, ‘love and hate’ would stand as a monument to explorers of the musical dark side for decades to come – such as nick cave, who memorably covered ‘avalanche’ – and to anyone nursing a bitter, broken heart.