Though the album was released a year ago, this collection by the popular English rock figure is gaining added attention now with its appearance on many year-end top ten lists.
While the average American rock audience, weaned on Foreigner and Led Zeppelin, may feel alienated by Costello's four-eyed angry stance, his talent as a songwriter is hard to ignore. Armed Forces, his third and finest album, was the best album of last year.
Comparisons with a young Bob Dylan are easy to make with Costello. Costello's songs express a rashness and an emotional combativeness against objects which challenge his faith — from competitive relationships to tortured love.
Costello matches. this emotional stance with a keen sense of melody. His songs are short and snappy, full of one-liners and puns.
The musical range of songs on Forces is varied, from "Chemistry Class" ("Are you ready for the Final Solution?") to the album's highlight, "Oliver's Army" — an extremely infectious and beautifully arranged pop song.
Costello may look like a computer programmer, but this clever songwriter has made a significant contribution to the so-called new wave movement of recent years.