This 22 year old (how old?!) enigma has delivered a first album that captures
essential elements of the distant and more recent pasts of rock 'n' roll. More important, his short, snappy and sophisticated songs, which deal with those old adolescent standbys of guilt and revenge, fuse two present-day musical polarities, and thus herald the future. His joyous, balanced, complex sound never approaches the gutsy, frenetic repetition of punk or the cerebral, often over-produced musical maze of studio rock, proving that you can still be clean and intricate while sounding dirty. Sure you'll find touches of Springsteen, Parker, Jerry Lee Lewis, the New Wave, and rhythm 'n blues among others. But like most rock innovators, Costello combines this eclecticism with his own vision to create something exciting and original. This unrecognized leader is far enough ahead of his time one fears that his influence may have more lasting impact than his actual work. In any event, I hope I die before he gets old.