Boston Globe, February 12, 1981

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Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Jim Sullivan

With Trust, album number six, Elvis Costello finds himself circling the airport, locked in a holding pattern. Still, it's been a good flight and even if Costello's not touching base as often or as directly as he used to, he's a reliable captain and the Attractions are a hard working crew. On Trust, the Attractions' punchy and propulsive sound remains enticing (note the busy bass-and-drums syncopation of "Strict Time" and the elegant piano bridge in "Clubland") and Costello's lyrics continue to display a cryptic wit and a talent for punning ("Now daddy's keeping mum"). Offering choruses such as "White knuckles on black and blue skin / He didn't mean to hit her but she kept laughing" and "You better watch your step," Costello is the master of teasing, understated malevolence. More dynamic than the compressed Get Happy!!, Trust has Costello credibly delving into George Jones-styled country ("Different Finger") and Presley-styled rock ("Luxembourg"), with a Squeeze-like pop-rocker ("From a Whisper to a Scream") and a Boomtown Rats-like piano-voice ballad ("Shot by His Own Gun") effectively mixed in. Good songs showing variety, pacing and conviction. Then, what's wrong with the picture? Costello aims for the quick hit and on This Year's Model, his second album, he hit the target. Costello's still aiming for that quick hit and as such, his vignette-like songs are built upon a couple of riffs with few developments or lead breaks. But what was a brash and powerful stroke in '78, seems the formula of '81. Although still compelling, the impact is less than full force and that's the standard Costello established. Trust is a little too comfortable. Costello's lyrics bounce from one insight to another; Costello's music bounces familiarly. At this point. I thought we'd be getting a little more more of a challenge, more reasons to think while we dance. Or maybe a different dance to do.

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The Boston Globe, February 12, 1981

Jim Sullivan reviews Trust.


1981-02-12 Boston Globe, Calendar page 09.jpg
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