Elvis Costello is one of the few rock songwriters still capable of producing a major work Not just a superbly crafted piece of music, but a collection of songs that enlarge on the conceptual framework of rock, that make some timeless connections between art and life.
Blood & Chocolate is a sweeping statement that comes hard on the heels of the self-revelation of King of America. After making a number of cameo projects in which he explored one aspect of his writing and musical interests, Costello has returned to the angry young man sound that marked his galvanic rise on the pop scene.
Costello has matured, so the anger here is no longer directed at unreachable authority. His cries are of pain caused by human frailty, love's inaccessibility and the sinister presence of grotesqueries and ultimately, death.
"Battered Old Bird" offers almost Franciscan empathy with a down-and-outer staring death in the face. "Tokyo Storm Warning" is a Dylanesque outpounng of surreal impressions depicting a world gone mad as wild, insistent guitars churn relentlessly "I Want You," a bitter message to a lover, is a perfect illustration of the way personal turmoil can inspire great songwriting.