There is nothing more reprehensible, vile, sleazy and disgusting than the thought of musicians who feel compelled in these troubled times to "Rock Against Bush." The idea that one would find it necessary to rock for anything but the sake of rocking itself what an insult to rocking, politics! is for reasons beyond comprehension.
The first lyric of Delivery Man, Elvis Costello's umpteenth album, is "don't wanna talk about the government." Phew.
Still, Delivery Man is an album that takes America square on, only in terms of the country's musical roots. This sounds like the work of a cynical young man hell-bent on deconstructing every aspect of our musical traditions, from early New Orleans rock'n'roll to the contemporary love song. Costello may not be a young man anymore, but there are songs on which he sounds just as cynical as ever.
Despite the apparent fun he's having in this return to form, Costello reveals a delicate understanding of humans' need to create false idols and humble their own desperation. The title song is about a woman who quietly tortures another by recounting fabricated trysts with the delivery man— what both women fail to realize is that "in a certain light he looked like Elvis" is his greatest virtue.
This all amounts to Costello's greatest achievement in decades, a record that is equally concerned with the tragedy of humanity, the filth under the barstool and the record on the jukebox. For a rich album that is consistently rewarding Delivery Man is essential.
Contact pop arts reporter Jon Dieringer at firstname.lastname@example.org.