The word for Elvis Costello's Get Happy is short: short title, short songs, and shortsighted.
As explained by the album's liner notes, Get Happy is packed with 20 (count 'em, 20) songs — ten tunes a side, with no song going over three and a half minutes in length. Each song subscribes to the Costello/producer Nick Lowe formula: sneering lyrics, two harmonic hooks, and a fade-out with echo chamber.
This album is the 1960s reincarnate, replete with snappy ditties and the cheap pop sound of bands like the Dave Clark Five. Except for the lyrical content, the songs of Get Happy make visions of Shindig dance in one's head.
Back in the 1960s, however, record companies had the good sense to put the bare minimum of songs on an album. With Get Happy, the relentless progression of more and more Elvis Costello becomes... well, aggravating. The music is good, but there's just no letting up.
On Get Happy, Costello turns his cynical eye toward love; unfortunately, his lyrical vision becomes almost as myopic as his eyesight. This is an album about love but not in the personal sense.
Except for "Human Touch," the songs take a wary, third person approach. Third person viewpoints are great for clinical studies, but the songs of Get Happy suffer from the lack of emotional impact.
Get Happy is not the great leap forward for Costello. The overall content fails to reach the standards of either My Aim Is True or Armed Forces. If Costello is to be cynical with some menacing, he doesn't need to get happy — he needs to get tough.
Get Happy, for its faults, is listenable. Actually, it's even likeable. Unfortunately, for both Costello and his audience, the appeal of this album is only superficial.