Just to clear up a few misconceptions, Elvis Costello isn't punk, even though he is ugly. He's more like new wave category or, better yet, dance music full of angst, anger and expression. Elvis' latest is, paradoxically, his most accessible and least understandable album to date. Get Happy! has a mixture of feelings and misplaced emphasis due to overflowing emotions, It sounds like a manic-depressive too excited to be completely articulate.
Side one (listed as side two on the jacket) contains the first ten cuts, just as side two contains the second ten with no loss of high fidelity from squenched grooves. Don't ask why, just know that producer Nick Lowe arranged this feat as well as the hollow/crisp recording of 49:35 minutes total of basic rock and roll tempered by that Motown sound The greatest gimmick is a bit of instrumental echo on some songs and prominent bass (match your steps to it while dancing) on the uptempo songs.
The abundance of songs is a bit overwhelming at first, but, with a few playings, they begin to grow on me. Right now all the cuts sound decent, of these, twelve are outstanding and six are exceptional creations. It is generally agreed that Elvis Costello is a witty lyricist; there's not time enough to decipher all of his thick Brit accent, but for an example, there is the tender "New Amsterdam" with a pun in the line, "'Till I step on the brake to get out of her clutches." Automotive imagery is also present in "Five Gears In Reverse / It's like I don't know what I'm doing / And at a fashionable thirst / Like walking down the road to ruin." Another touching simile is contained in the song ("giving you away like) Motel Matches," while humor reigns in the title "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down." At least Elvis writes better than the standard logical, sensible, practical or "love you, yes I do" pop lyrics.
Aside from the fact that Get Happy! is great to dance to, moderately conductive to studying, deep enough to provide analytical mental exercise and nearly brings me to tears with the unexpected beauty and anguish of "Riot Act." Music is your best entertainment value, so (I can't resist) Get Happy! and give the king of new waves a chance on your brainwaves.