Toronto (CP) — Don't bother trying to figure out Elvis Costello's latest move.
He's already done it for you.
"When people are trying to make a story about me, the story is, 'Well, yes, he shaved off his beard, came to his senses, got the old band together and started making the stuff we really love.'" says Costello on the phone from London.
That's basically it in a nutshell.
Costello, 38, has reunited with the Attractions, his favored band of the good ol' days of "new wave" rock.
Favored by critics and fans, that is, though not necessarily by the participants in what was originally simply a marriage of convenience.
Prior to last month's tour kick-off in Vancouver, Costello and Attractions Pete Thomas (drums), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Steve Nieve (keyboards) hadn't been seen in public together for some eight years.
They rejoined forces for this tour and new album Brutal Youth, the first Costello & Attractions effort since 1986's Blood And Chocolate.
The 1986 reunion followed years of Costello solo excursions into country music (Almost Blue, 1981), twisted romanticism (Imperial Bedroom, 1982 and roots rock (King Of America, 1986).
Costello headed solo again in the '90s without looking over his shoulder, offering up eclectic pop brilliance (Spike, 1989), cranky-bearded-guy angst (Mighty Like A Rose, 1991), genre-crossing pop classicism (The Juliet Letters, 1903) and supplying ill-fated songwriter work for pop tart Wendy James.
All this after exploding onto the punk-new wave scene in 1977 with a killer nerd look and tuneful cynicism.
Costello's debut album My Aim Is True was recorded live for $5,000 in a hole-in-the-wall called Pathway Studios, on sick days and holidays from his computer programmer day job.
Writing lines like "I used to be disgusted, Now I try to be amused," on the track The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes, Costello had a way of both charming and scaring at the same time.
Costello says the latest reunion with the Attractions just sort of happened and was driven by the type of songs he was writing last year.
He and drummer Pete Thomas had returned to Pathway Studios to work up rough demos of the non-hits that ex-TransVision Vamp singer Wendy James recorded for her Now Ain't The Time For Your Tears album. Tears was a failed exercise in career resuscitation for James but reawakened Costello's desire to return to his earlier, rawer sound with Mighty Like A Rose producer Mitchell Froom.