Long before he was an actual rock 'n' roll elder statesman, Elvis Costello acted like one, seeking out the company of oldsters like Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach and pursuing "serious," high-falutin' projects outside his popular wheelhouse. For Momofuku, Costello's first rock record in four years, the venerated singer-songwriter works with some kids for a change: Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis provides prominent backing vocals on most tracks, and pals Johnathan Rice and Dave Scher (of Beachwood Sparks) also pitch in. Recorded quickly and without much premeditation, Momofuku finds Costello re-energized by his past, and happy to simplify his oft-overstuffed lyrics in the service of likeably Costello-esque tunes.
It would be a stretch to call anything on Momofuku great, but it's the breeziest, most immediate record he's made in years. "Go Away" starts off like a million '60s-style trash rockers — including a couple off of This Year's Model?? — but its infectious, live-in-the-studio stomp, not to mention Steve Nieve's always-brilliant organ, make it a welcome addition to Costello's canon of memorable anti-love songs.
Costello hasn't completely left his late-period crooner pose behind, as the pretty soul number "Flutter And Wow" makes clear. And the touching family tribute "My Three Sons" charts Costello's transformation from angry young man to content middle-aged father. But when he makes "a fine old noise" on the messy studio jam "Stella Hurt" or spits out the venomous new wave corker "American Gangster Time," Costello is back to not acting his age, only younger this time.