Philadelphia City Paper, October 24, 2013

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Wise Up Ghost

Elvis Costello and The Roots

Michael Pelusi

On Wise Up Ghost, The Roots establish their bona fides as genre-synthesizers. The arrangements slip effortlessly between hip-hop, ’70s funk, New Orleans jazz, dub and more. But it’s not the breadth, it’s the depth; ?uestlove and co. intuitively fit these sounds together with a little help from some ear-bending, trippy production. You could easily make the argument that Late Night with Jimmy Fallon — instead of turning them into cover-band automaton hacks — has only made them bolder and more assured. Oh, right; there’s another guy on Wise Up Ghost, too. Elvis Costello is known for insatiable genre-hopping, but he fits rather uneasily here. Costello wisely doesn’t try to rap, but he often delivers wan melodies while attempting some kind of rhythmic attack. Additionally, Wise Up Ghost is yet another summary of These Times We Live In. When not "sampling" lyrics from older songs, Costello dutifully supplies wordy, sardonic treatises. But not much of it sticks with the kind of thrilling sharpness that characterizes his best work.

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Philadelphia City Paper, October 24, 2013


Michael Pelusi reviews Wise Up Ghost.


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