No need to apologize for punching in over three months after release date; a Costello album should be able to weather a change of seasons. "Pills and Soap" washed in last spring pointedly in the wake of the Falklands skirmish: "You think your country needs you but you know it never will"; yet, even with one war fading into another, the single hasn't aged badly at all.
The timing is fairly accurate on the rest of the clock as well, as Costello's second hand winds its way carefully through a brassy bright time afforded by the T.K.O. horns, while his first hand has the famed McManus wit pinned down firmly.
No need, then, to make any more plugs for "Let Them All Talk," "Everyday I Write the Book," or even "The Invisible Man." They're all worth the time, having taken a wrinkle from past-times and pastimes with a liberal sprinkling of soul cliches, a moderate attention to current trends (from Wham! to Culture Club, which may not be very far, after all), and a neoconservative drift into showiness. The singer doesn't throw off his throwaway lines with the dash of Armed Forces or the earnestness of Imperial Bedroom.
The inclusion of T.K.O.s — Costello's tribute to Stax (or Dexys, who knows?), opens with a blast but grows gradually tinny. As Costello experiments go, I prefer the Billy Sherrill exursion of the less "successful" Almost Blue. Isn't this the greatest thing? No, because there is a cluttered appearance; a pop parody. Not timeless, but timeful, tuneful.