Welcome to the bedchambers of Elvis Costello's heart and mind.
If Costello's musical perspective in the past has been reminiscent of a sniggering little boy who delights in catching the world with its pants down, you may be pleasantly surprised by his latest effort, Imperial Bedroom.
Costello does flash his fangs. But this time around, he allows listeners to see the feelings hidden under the protective layer of venom.
The album is laced with vulnerability. Costello seems to have made the discovery there is no shame in personal pain and confusion.
Of course, Costello has never been the type to believe in problem-free existence. In a song called "The Long Honeymoon," he matter-of-factly croons "There's no money-hack guarantee on future happiness."
At the same time, Costello manages to convey a stubborn idealism on Imperial Bedroom. In the delightfully wry "Pidgin English," Costello firmly emphasizes the value of love: "When will you realize / There are ten commandments of love / I believe, I trust / I promise, I wish / Love's just a throwaway kiss / In this Pidgin English..."
The album's last song, a poignant number called, "Town Cryer," opens with sharp, squealing horns that become sweet and even majestic by the tune's end.
Perhaps Costello is emphasizing his own new, true emotional colors as he smoothly sings: "Maybe you don't believe my heart / Is in the right place / Why don't you take a / Good look at my face..."