Hornrimmed spectacles and a crew cut make Elvis Costello a definite Bill Haley look alike. Both in music and appearance Costello is directly in touch with another musical time, when rock and roll was alive. Often lumped in with the New Wave or punk bands which have recently come out of England, his debut effort is surprisingly strong, both in writing ability and sheer intensity.
Costello is 22 and has been writing music for about eight years. Since last summer he has had two major hits in England and this first U.S. release is selling well. My Aim Is True is much more like an album you would find 10 years ago, a collection of 13 short songs, none running over 3 minutes long. Although some songs miss, others make this an album that cannot be ignored Simply, "Allison" is one of the most poignant rock ballads one could hope to hear. Other more upbeat songs such as "Welcome to the Working Week" and "Less Than Zero" are examples of intelligent writing, with enough musical hooks to catch a listeners attention and lyrical power to hold it.
This album reflects much of the despair Costello feels in the collapse of England, or as far as he is concerned, the world. Costello recently commented: "There is nothing glorious or romantic about the world right at the moment. Romantic in the old pop song sense has gone right out the window. It's gotten beyond that." As Costello sings there is a new sense of reality in his voice. It is an element that has been void in the homogenized rock most "mainstream" bands are content to churn out. Costello may be the new romantic wave of the seventies, as relationships remain the basis of much of his writing. But the new romantic subject of his music is probably teen age and pregnant, a far cry from the fantasy days of Surf City and Beach Blanket Bingo.