Audio, August 1978

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US music magazines


This Year's Model

Elvis Costello

Jon Tiven

For the past few weeks I have to admit that I've been listening to the radio a lot more than anything else, keeping my ears perked for something more interesting than the records I've been sent from the record corporations. Most of the LPs that come out these days sound like they were recorded in either an executive cubbyhole or a conference room, rather than the bathroom, living room, or bedroom that spawns creativity. Anyhow, I got This Year's Model in the mails and I can predict that the radio will not be in use quite so often for the next few weeks, at the very least. Elvis' second big record is every bit as eccentric as the first, slightly more worldly lyric-wise, and promises to grow on yours truly in the times to come.

First, this features the Elvis Band which has been touring extensively since the release of the last album and, thus, the role of producer Nick Lowe is slightly less arrangement-oriented and more reliant upon getting the most out of the least. The album is recorded primarily live with very few overdubs, and is particularly heavy on the bass and drums, utilizing keyboards (mainly Farfisa organ) for melodic lines and Elvis' tremeloed rhythm guitar to punctuate the beat with the chords. Some may see the album as underproduced but for my money it is very produced ... but enough for the sound, let's get to the songs.

The hits are "No Action," "This Year's Girl" (the latter containing a beautiful combination steal from The Stones "Stupid Girl" and the Beatles "You Won't See Me" in the bridge), the punkesque "You Belong To Me," a delightful but cryptic song called "Hand In Hand," the acoustic guitar-driven "Lip Service," a song that sounds so much like The Band it's scary called "Living In Paradise," a creepy/speedy Music Machine descendant called "Lipstick Vogue" formerly entitled "Not Just Another Mouth," and an indictment of the American waves called "Radio Radio." Which leaves only three tunes on the whole album which aren't full-fledged winners and even they're better than most of the stuff around now.

His attitude is similar to most of the New Wavers — change the world by getting rid of all the old boring institutions and people — but with a musical style which to date has been far more commercially successful, the former Declan Patrick McManus has already reached more people than the Sex Pistols, the Talking Heads, and the Damned have collectively. This Year's Model should bring him even closer to all the feeding hands he wishes to bite, and for good reason.

Sound: B+
Performance: A


Audio, August 1978

Jon Tiven reviews This Year's Model.


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Page scan.

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Cover and contents page.


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