Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 23, 1982

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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Imperial Bedroom

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Don McLeese / Chicago Sun-Times

So much of pop is strategy; taking elements that strike a responsive chord in the widest possible audience, and rearranging them — nay, reinventing them — in such a manner that they sound fresh all over again. Somewhat paradoxically, the most inspired pop turns the neat trick of presenting itself as both universal and utterly unique.

IbMePdErRoIoAmL (or Imperial Bedroom, if you separate the capital letters from the lower case) reconfirms that Elvis Costello is the master strategist of contemporary pop — an artist whose command of the culture's twists and turns is so total as to be almost subversive. No one else could weave references ranging from Cole Porter to classic Merseybeat and Motown to American football ("I'm a little down, with a lifetime to go") into a coherent whole that is both suggestive and elliptically personal.

In contrast to his most powerfully claustrophobic work of the past, the album finds Costello opening himself to a greater array of experience and depth of emotion. The ballads here — "Almost Blue," "Kid About It" and "Boy With a Problem" — are uniformly gorgeous, although never merely pretty. While there are no flat-out rockers, the tautness of the mid-tempo arrangements results in a tension rivaling rock at its most vital. Stripped to the bone, the music cuts to the heart.

Geoff Emerick's production is superb; the Attractions provide state-of-the-art support; Costello's singing has never sounded better. Elvis Costello is our finest contemporary songwriter; this could well be his finest collection of songs.

Tags: Imperial BedroomCole PorterMerseybeatMotownKid About ItAlmost BlueBoy With A ProblemThe AttractionsGeoff Emerick


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 23, 1982

Don McLeese reviews Imperial Bedroom.


1982-09-23 Honolulu Star-Bulletin page C-7 clipping 01.jpg

Page scan.
1982-09-23 Honolulu Star-Bulletin page C-7.jpg


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