Hot Press, January 24, 1981

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Hot Press

UK & Irish magazines

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Trust

Elvis Costello

Declan Lynch

It's a truism that, come the third album, an artist either puts up or shuts up. That doesn't apply here, this being Elvis' fifth album.

He has persistently 'put up' music with an IQ superior to his contemporaries, simply. His lyrics enlighten by going beyond the obvious and cliched summaries seized upon with consummate inefficiency by small fry songmerchants. They, by chewing on and dribbling out the cud of popular music, thrive on the stockmarket of "love" and "romance." (You strike a profile on the low side of my imagination).

Costello deals with the actuality of relationship – the asides, suspicions, deceits and compromises. It would require an intense ear to follow his lyrical drift from start to finish. Consequently, a line, a particularly poignant pun, may dominate (if you catch it in the right mood), and stick out of context. He nails it down once, echoes it, and runs. Beat that music, Barry Gibb.

Trust it's called, but rather than a doe-eyed Elvis communicating cosmic waves of sincerity, the cover shot has him, eyebrows raised, avoiding a head on collision with that word by looking quizzically over his specs, away from camera one.

Here, he again assumes the antagonistic role of third party, but combined with criticism, the voice and of involvement.

Trust is as acute a work as Get Happy, which it overlaps to an extent – the musical quotes are lifted from part two of the same textbook. People criticized Get Happy because it was "unfinished," because it wasn't so much a collection of songs as a heap of sketches, and because the production was incomplete. That seems to impose unnecessary values on an album which functioned perfectly in its own context, and on several levels. It's the "write another Alison" syndrome being flogged again.

– "Oh Elvis is fine, but it does get a little tedious hearing this nasty little man gnashing his teeth, and smiting off the heads of lovers with his well-practised switchblade".

Why is it necessary for rock artists to donate a pint of their blood before they are viewed as "passionate" or "emotional." That vehicle as Bruce Springsteen will vouch, usually runs out of juice in Grafton Street at 5.20 on a Friday afternoon.

These 14 tracks show Elvis to be aware of the forcefulness with which music can convey significance, and still work in its own right as being danceable, impressive and emotive. Perhaps the inner sleeve depiction of the Attractions burning it up with a big band is indicative – foxtrots, waltzes, quicksteps and tangoes, something for everyone!

"Different Finger," a straight country'n'western vignette, suggests that Elvis is relaxing more on this album, indulging his "music as pure enjoyment" preferences. yet, the son isn't wasted, it isn't a parody.

"Shot With His Own Gun" arrives as proof and confirmation of Costello's candour: "How does it feel now you've been undressed / By a man with a mind like the gutter press / So disappointed to find it's not big sin, lyin' skin to skin…"

Try these along with your fruit of the forest yogurt: "She's got eyes like saucers / You think she is a dish"; "Good manners and bad breath get you nowhere".

"It's easier to say I love you than yours sincerely, I suppose / Every little sister likes to try on big sister's clothes" … "The right to work is traded in for the right to refuse a mission" … "Smoking on a cigarette of chastity" … "Don't wanna be first, I just want to last".

"Watch Your Step" stealthy and cautionary, contains a degree of self-admonishment. Elvis' reliance on music's established traditions is plain; unlike his earlier fancy footwork, Trust consolidates on Get Happy and does so with poise and style.

He's defending the title and picking up the big purses with aplomb. "Bums of the Month" aren't Elvis' style.

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Hot Press, January 24, 1981


Declan Lynch reviews Trust.

Images

1981-01-24 Hot Press cover.jpg
Cover.

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