When Elvis Costello's first album came out, I really felt the title said it all his aim was true — unpretentious, simple rock and roll. The lyrics covered a whole field of rock obsessions from "Welcome to the Working Week" through the classic "Red Shoes" to "Waiting for the End of the World." It was fresh and I loved it.
Then This Year's Model appeared. I still don't understand the critical acclaim it received — the lyrical simplicity was abandoned and musically it was pedantic compared with the debut album. True it did contain some strong numbers, including the title track, but there were a lot of losers and a confused uniformity in its put-down stance.
This new album is melodically stronger but the search for a lyrical form seems to have created an even greater confusion and a turning to stylised wordgames like repeated image reversals — "I'm in a grip-like vice," "It's a death worse than fate," "There's a shorthand typist taking seconds over minutes"…
Once again, however, there are some fine tracks too and if you did like This Year's Model (one man's meat …) chances are you'll like this too. It has an added bonus in the form of a live ep which includes, by the way, a version of "Alison" — me, I'll stay with that and "Red Shoes."