Bloomington Pantagraph, May 9, 2002

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When I Was Cruel

Elvis Costello

Terry Lawson

There's an ironic novelty to seeing Elvis Costello's latest album released, as a consequence of the kind of record industry homogenization he's been railing against for a quarter-century, on a onetime rap label.

But the biggest irony is seeing it marketed as his return to New Wave rock; about all this intensely dynamic and multi-hued record has in common with recent New Wave reunions like Blondie is the plastic alloy it's pressed on.

Though the often over-amped guitars and grinding grooves ensure it bears a surface resemblance to the great and grating Blood and Chocolate, it has at least as much musical sophistication and diversity as the brilliant All This Useless Beauty, and takes the pop experimentation of the Beatles' Revolver and the Rolling Stones' Aftermath as this year's model.

The single "Tear Off Your Head (It's a Doll Revolution)" could be a fabled outtake recorded between "I Want To Tell You" and "We Love You."

Fans will also recognize many of the songs herein as not bursting from the studio, but carefully honed on Costello's duo tours with Steve Naive, who contributes customarily tasty and testy keyboards: "45" tracks England's baby boomers from war's end to rock 'n' roll religion to encroaching middle-age, while "Alibi" attacks (with self-effacing wit) our eagerness to blame failure and bad behavior on any villain save our cuddled lack of character.

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Bloomington Pantagraph, May 9, 2002


Terry Lawson reviews When I Was Cruel.

Images

2002-05-09 Bloomington Pantagraph page D7.jpg
Page scan.

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