Creem, July 1978

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This Year's Model

Elvis Costello

Alan Madeleine

Isn't that always the greatest affront to the sleuth, when the focal clue has to practically chew up his 99-cent support stockings for him to notice it? So comes my chagrin upon finally solving this album's enigma: Elvis Costello sings through a camera. Cut and dry, the evidence right there on the record jacket. Guy just isolates himself in some snot-colored cubicle and sings into a camera; "grrr." The effect is like Graham Parker and Blondie albums lain one atop the other on the summer sidewalks of NYC, trod upon and melted into a hybrid. Or maybe ultimately like what the world would have to deal with were Graham to seduce Blondie, or more likely vice-versa, upon a bed of insulated electrical wires which, post-consummation of the act, were fused inextricably to the abdomen of the lust-child-infested mother, and with first breath, the bastard whispers, "radio, radio..."

It is obvious that Costello's only fear is that his fearless music will go unheard. That he should be at all equated with punk is merely a two-fold misfortune; part temporal, and the main part due to his aggressogant stance — a first-sensed difference from at least the initial British new wave manifesto is that Elvis' motif is less politicultural than interpersonal, and especially contemptuous of the fairer sex (or unfairer sex, as he would have it). Now while he doesn't piece in with that contingent, he does nonetheless prove quite stylisticly mindful; distinct enough from any other extant act to be noted, yet cautious of excess experimentation in this establishmental sophomore phase.

I must confess that a lyric outlay would have helped me in several places, what with Elvis either pinching his voice, as if priming a retrievable poison dart, or rushing speedword exhalings through those doubtlessly gritted choppers of his. And chop they do; with My Aim Is True, almost all the songs here are centrally and virulently concerned with women — piqued by them, pricked by them, loathing and longing them, or belittling the musclemass studs that possess them, while he's left out in the cold. Now, while I don't happen to identify with his particular view of things, this alone doesn't prove reason enough for me to dislike the record — the arrangements are so justright methodically odd (quirkrock?) that I've found myself singing lyrics which, under saner circumstances, I wouldn't subscribe to.

I don't know... Sometimes this revelation comes to me — I foresee some klan-destine thing involved in this new world recordry; a sort of anti-snatch rape-rooter's beat-that-butch-Doberman-bitch-'til-she-suffers kinda thing... so tell me, are your best girl's eyes looking suddenly blackenable?

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Creem, July 1978

Alan Madeleine reviews This Year's Model.

Robert Christgau reviews This Year's Model.   (Same as Village Voice.)

Billy Altman reviews Nick Lowe's Pure Pop For Now People.


1978-07-00 Creem page 59.jpg
Page scan.

This Year's Model

Elvis Costello

Robert Christgau

1978-07-00 Creem page 14.jpg

This is not punk rock. But anyone who thinks it's uninfluenced should compare the bite and drive of the backup here to the well-played studio pub-rock sound of his debut, and ask themselves how come he now sounds as angry as he says he feels. I find his snarl more compelling musically and verbally than all his melodic and lyrical tricks, and while I still wish he liked girls more, at least I'm ready to believe he's had some bad luck.

1978-07-00 Creem page 60.jpg
Page scan.

1978-07-00 Creem cover.jpg 1978-07-00 Creem page 19.jpg
Cover and page scan.


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