Only the master of the heart wrenching lovesong can write a piece professing love, devotion and strength through tenderness and have it sound like a ninety-mile-per-hour cruise through nightmare alley. This is exactly what transpires in the complicated love song titled "Uncomplicated," With the guitar chords he made famous in the beginning and ending of "Man Out of Time" (Imperial Bedroom, 1982) Blood & Chocolate's first track announces the King awoken!
Elvis Costello's Blood & Chocolate is such a relief I can't tell you all. After his foray into the Top 40 with Daryl Hall and his lackluster, Wimp — I mean King of America, Elvis is truly arrived, just as angry, sarcastic and bitteredged as he ever was. And we all know that this tinge of neurosis is what has fostered the creative energy that permeates each album he puts out. This latest effort is nothing short of superb. Yes, the King as we knew in '82 is definitely back.
In Imperial Bedroom, Elvis introduced us to his uncanny knack for the unveiling of societal hpypocrisy, surely a psychological deconstruction that Robert Browning himself would have been proud of. Blood & Chocolate picks up as if there were no temporal discontinuity with "I hope You're Happy Now" and "He's a fine figure of a man and handsome too / With his eyes upon the secret places he'd like to undo / Still he knows who and where and how..."
Another shot at 10 Downing Street? or any parlor in Anyman's home? You pick, because according to Mr. Costello, hypocrisy, malevolence and the disturbing status quo is all around us.
just as important as the lyrics to this album is the music. The mark of a good songwriter is the ability to match the consciousness of the lyrics with the overall sensibility of the music. When Elvis sings, "And I still want her right now" you believe his sincerity is more than the depth of the song he's singing because of the balancing of the temperament of the music with such heartfelt lyrics.
I suppose I could go on all day about not only Elvis Costello's immense talent, but about the sheer pleasure I derived from first listening to the record. From the album's first track the songs only get better and better with the intensity of music rising in direct correlation to the emotional depths Costello plumbs. Blood & Chocolate is an album that has tremendous staying power, and that's exactly what's it's doing — staying right on my turntable.