Bridgewater Courier-News, February 7. 1981

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Prolific Costello still way ahead of the pack
but has yet to produce his masterpiece

David Altaner

Elvis Costello And The Attractions / Trust

In 3½ years, Elvis Costello has turned out six, count 'em, six albums of remarkably consistent and varied work. You have to be impressed.

His latest, Trust, features the same precise imagery and tightly-edited melodies that are on all his albums.

There's a lovely lilting ballad like "Watch Your Step," which plays around with cliches of love and language. Elvis seems to have a thing about cliches, and that's one of the nice things about the way he plays with words. He starts familiar phrases and leaves them hanging, letting your mind fill in the rest of the line.

All through the album, in fact, there's nice throw-away lines, such as "a faceful of tears in a chemical shake."

He does have a tendency to delve into the same old dark themes, however. "New Lace Sleeves," the first song on Side Two, starts off with a Costello staple, twisted love: "Bad love is face to face in the morning / Shy apologies and polite regrets / Slow dances that leave no one enough."

The songs are three-minute wonders, and the Attractions keep getting better and better, particularly Steve Nieve (formerly Naive) on piano.

Elvis leaves far behind the people to whom he's been compared, singer-songwriters such as Graham Parker and Warren Zevon.

But given the high quality and the staggering amount of Elvis' work, however, you just wish he'd hurry up and turn out his masterpiece. Trust isn't it. It's as if the Beatles kept churning out Revolver and Yesterday and Today and never got to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the White Album.

But if anybody's going to sum up the '80s like the Beatles did the '60s, it'll be Elvis. The "Mean Decade," as some have already termed our own illiberal era, is tailor-made for Elvis "The-only-important-themes-are-revenge-and-guilt" Costello. Long live Elvis.


The Courier-News, August 21, 1982

David Altaner reviews Trust.


1981-02-07 Bridgewater Courier-News page B-5.jpg
Page scan.


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