CMJ New Music Monthly, May 2002

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CMJ New Music Monthly

US music magazines

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When I Was Cruel

Elvis Costello

Steve Ciabattoni

Fair-weather Elvis Costello fans haven't exactly been pumped up about his more sophisticated artistic endeavors in the last few years. Well, boo boo, Elvis doesn't give two fucks what you think, and the barking, biting When I Was Cruel says as much. Note: If the slow-burning "Alibi" is about you, might we suggest leaving the country, any country. When I Was Cruel is EC's rowdiest, if not best, effort in nearly a decade. Blunt and unvarnished, the album was written chiefly on a cheap electric guitar and an even cheaper drum machine, a device that challenged Costello's voice to explode with more spit than polish. On record, the sampler and beatbox get help from the Attractions (except bassist non grata Bruce Thomas) as Elvis unloads a fierce brew of spite and skill ("Dissolve" and "Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution)") that's sure to shame a younger crowd of pallid British rockers. Not that there aren't loftier artistic itches being scratched here as well. The horn charts on "15 Petals" reveal his thorny genius and the lengthy title track lifts a sample from an Italian film soundtrack, providing a sultry noir backdrop for a series of brutal confessions and accusations. To be this wise and wicked is a dangerous thing.

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CMJ New Music Monthly, May 2002


Steve Ciabattoni reviews When I Was Cruel.


An ad for When I Was Cruel runs on page 5.


Images

2002-05-00 CMJ New Music Monthly page 43 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.

Advertisement.
2002-05-00 CMJ New Music Monthly page 05 advertisement.jpg


2002-05-00 CMJ New Music Monthly cover.jpg 2002-05-00 CMJ New Music Monthly page 43.jpg
Cover and page scan.

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