It's quite easy to get happy about Elvis Costello's new album. The most obvious reason is that it's Elvis and anyone familiar with the awesome power and high quality of his three previous LPs has been waiting for this one. Also Get Happy!! contains 20 tracks, rather than the usual ten or 11 songs. The best part is that it's all on one record for a one-record price. The only drawback to this is the time it takes to absorb so many new Elvis Costello songs, though in the end, even that's a pleasure since this album is great.
For the most part, the music moves at a brisk pace. As always, the melodies are simple but packed full of straightforward guitar work and carnival-tinted '60s organ or rollicking rock piano work. But most importantly, Costello's lyrics are sharp, clever, and as commanding as ever. Consequently, your attention jumps from a witty play on words ("you lack lust, you're so lackluster"), to a catchy riff to a mesmerizing beat just about every other second. It's tiring, but rewarding. Those who appreciate Costello most for his full-fleshed and intricate compositions may not warm up to Get Happy!! right away since Nick Lowe's production and the songs themselves are rougher and more compact than Costello's other work.
Although Costello makes absolutely no attempt whatsoever to camouflage any of his musical influences and sources, nothing ever sounds used. "Love for Tender" features an unbelievably clear Jackson Five-style rhythm track and background vocals, "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" displays some confused country and western elements, "Temptation" delivers an organ line straight from Booker T and the MGs '60s instrumental classic "Green Onions," and "I Stand Accused" brazenly reveals its roots in yet another old stomper called "Shout" (which you may remember from the movie Animal House).