Twenty songs (count 'em) doth not a great album make. But when Elvis Costello does them they sometimes come close to making a mighty good one.
They're what you might expect: songs about frustration, acne, and other impossibilities. But what you really care about is music, isn't it?
And there's enough of that. True, I might not care too much for the album opener, "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" although it isn't bad, "Black And White World" comes on as a strong enough follower to make up for it. Driving, like most of the other cuts, "Black and White World" uses that Farfisa like a jackhammer.
"Five Gears In Reverse" is a jazzy number with more than enough syncopation. But forget about "Motel Matches". It's too much like a rejected Procol Harum number to be effective. Since when is Costello a Gary Brooker?
"Human Touch" with its hopping piano line is more than just nice. Ditto for the muted "Temptation." "I Stand Accused" is typical Costello 'love is my crime' pop. Forget about "Riot Act" and its melancholy meandering. Does come back a bit with the refrain (ala sixties' Rascals' pleading).
"Love for Tender" is one of the best cuts on the album even tho' it sounds a bit too much like a Michael Jackson number. Still great.
"Opportunity" and 'The Imposter" are typical Elvis hand-me-downs. Proficient, but in mint of a twenty (count 'em) cut album it's understandable that they're not anything really exciting.
"Secondary Motion" is much better even though so understated. What's he doing, folks? The rest is just plain Costello. "High Fidelity" is a nice little anthem about everything but stereo equipment.
The interesting thing about the album is that even though the songs aren't outstanding in themselves (except for a few exceptions), the album works. True, he did take nice than enough shortcuts.