While I have never been a fan of Elvis Costello's sputtering lyrical broadsides, his ability to sight his targets with accuracy and bury them in withering scorn is usually second to none. But there is an untypical lack of focus on Blood & Chocolate, both in the songs and in Nick Lowe's murky production.
The Attractions sound as though they are bashing about in a scrapyard during "Uncomplicated" and there is an aura of seedy dilapidation in the droning instrumentation on the self-pitying "Poor Napoleon."
Things are certainly looking bad when on "Tokyo Storm Warning" Costello seeks inspiration from themes already well covered by Joe Jackson on his Big World album, not to mention borrowing the melody from the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville."
"Battered Old Bird" and "Home is Where You Hang Your Head" are maudlin songs peopled with morose, cobwebbed characters and the insular mood suggests that Costello wrote the album while confined to his bedroom with a bout of musical agoraphobia.