Blood and Chocolate, released through CBS Records, is evidence of how far Elvis Costello has come since those early New Wave days when the raspy rocker didn't want to go to Chelsea. Costello's mastery of several pop music forms has much to do with his current success, although calling him a mature artist would he akin to the kiss of death.
The best tracks on this album throb with a vitality which lies under the "wall of sound" which suggests various influences. These tracks are reminiscent of the sort of epithets that critics used to heap on Bruce Springsteen in his past, glory days: "A modern distillation of the entire rock 'n' roll tradition," they would all say.
Indeed, on certain tracks, Costello's passionate vocal style is reminiscent of Springsteen's, and it probably wouldn't be going too far to suggest that these two artists share the same musical tastes.
The first tracks on either side are the kind of Costello rock 'n' roll fare to which fans are accustomed to hearing.
"Tokyo Storm Warning" takes us into a kind of bizarre nightmare of decadent modernness, a world of tacky cliches populated by only the most crass images of instant pleasure.
The irony of Costello's music is that pop, the very form of which he has proved himself a master, epitomizes everything he attacks: "Whistles out the tuneless theme song on a hundred cheap suggestions / And a million false seductions and all those eternal questions."
A little gloomy perhaps, Blood and Chocolate is the product of a man just a little older and a little wiser about the world. However, the vitality still remains, and Costello, unlike many others one could mention, has not lost his touch.