Here is an English musician who has fashioned a style around influences such as Bruce Springsteen, Graham Parker, The Rolling Stones, and reggae, adopted a dimwit persona (he insists Elvis is his given name) to go with it, and believes he has something unique. What makes it all mildly interesting is that several of Costello's compositions such as "Blame It On Cain," and "Alison," "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" and "Watching the Detectives," are actually pretty good. The songs work despite Costello's skeletal guitar playing and his constraint on the supporting musicians, whose names he even refuses to mention on the record sleeve.
What bothers me most about Costello, however, is his contrived gawkiness and the ambiguity of his stance. Is he serious? Does he think of himself as a punk, a pub musician, mainstream, or just another asshole with a guitar?