Maxim, May 2002

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  • 2002 May

US magazines

When I Was Cruel

Elvis Costello

David Peisner

4-stars (out of 5) reviews4-stars (out of 5) reviews4-stars (out of 5) reviews4-stars (out of 5) reviews4-stars (out of 5) reviews

Elvis Costello doesn't hate you — it just sounds that way. In the late '70s, he arrived as a whirlwind of seething contempt and horn-rimmed glasses; while the Clash were staging a white riot, Elvis was throwing a masterful tantrum. His detours in the '90s to work with codgers such as Burt Bacharach were interesting, but let's face it: Costello is best when Costello is pissed. And, man, is he pissed on his latest. "It was so much easier when I was cruel," he sneers on the atmospheric title track, as a wicked 007-style guitar line and an enchanting female voice do battle behind him.

Recorded with two-thirds of his band, the Attractions, Cruel recalls cantankerous classics like This Year's Model and Armed Forces but updates them with spectral reggae grooves ("Soul For Hire," "Dust") and graceful horn arrangements ("15 Petals"). The playful "Spooky Girlfriend" and "45" keep Costello's pretty hate machine from overheating, but as refrains like "Cos I love you just as much as I hate you guts" (from "Alibi") attest, it's still the bile that pays the bills.


Maxim, May 2002

David Peisner reviews When I Was Cruel.


2002-05-00 Maxim page 92.jpg
Page scan.

2002-05-00 Maxim cover.jpg


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