Elvis Costello is the temperamental egghead of British rock, and also the literary mind. Elusive, superfluous, and often brilliant, Costello's personality is his lyrics. In Trust however Costello loosens up and the academic quality of his music becomes more informal.
Costello retains his love for alliteration and pun but the irony so pervasive in past songs is lacking. The melodies are as well crafted as ever. Costello once again proves that he is master at elevating old-time pop and rock and making it contemporary for the sophisticated ears of this decade. Trust does not betray; Costello remains a wordsmith and melodymaster.
The lyrics are tinged with classic Costello cliches. The cut-them-till-it-hurts cliche is present: "Good manners and bad breath / Will get you nowhere." The true-male-betrayed-by-a-deceitful-woman is also found throughout the album. But even with these classic cliches he is less brutal than in past albums.
The track "From A Whisper To A Scream" features Glenn Tilbrook (of Squeeze) sharing lead vocals on the best cut of the album. Costello's curdled croon and Tilbrook's saccharoid wail lace the song with an almost brotherly feel. Costello seems to be having fun getting the message across rather than his usual contemptuous delivery.
With its constantly building melody and the rhythmic piano of Steve Nieve, "Strict Time" is also a fine cut. The Attractions also seem to be enjoying Costello's bettered mood and add some instrumental surprises with more frequency than before.
Elvis plays Elvis on the 50's rocker "Luxembourg." Costello sounds like Presley more than by name on this cut.
The topic of wife beating is contemplated in the melodies of "White Knuckles." The track is proof that Costello still insists on being grim, which is all fine because this is where he thrives.
"Shot With His Own Gun" is over dramatic but the lyrics redeem it with witty pun. The words all play upon the vocabulary of weapons: "He got hit by an emotional ricochet."
Trust's production is clean and crisp, a quality not heard since Costello's first album, My Aim Is True. Only "Big Sister's Clothes" sounds pale, producer Nick Lowe doesn't claim the blame.
With Trust, Costello reaffirms his hold as a leader and innovator in rock music for the 80's. Not only that, he is getting friendlier about it ... maybe.