For those who've missed the hard-rocking. would-be punk Elvis of My Aim Is True, Costello has crafted two of the finest pure rockers of his career, "Next Time Around" and "I Hope You're Happy Now," both of which sustain and amplify this album's theme of wounded love.
For those who prefer Costello's more recent experiments in modern songcraft, there are several obscure, fetid story-songs, including one about a child murderer and several about unfaithful women.
In between these extremes, however, there are moments of pop brilliance that can't be easily classified. "I Want You" is simply the most emotional piece of music Costello has ever committed to vinyl, a slow, searing cry of love from a desperate man. "Tokyo Storm Warning" is a dizzy nightmare of colliding cultures in a hard-rock setting.
Blood & Chocolate is not as stylistically satisfying as Costello's recent King of America LP, but it's more absorbing for its frequent substitution of raw feeling for calculated wit.
There are hints here that Costello might once again be capable of attaining Dylanesque peaks of imagery and emotion. As the master sings in "Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head," "He's contemplating murder again — he must be in love."