Trust? Or should that read trussed?
The law of averages states quite clearly that anybody who produces no less than six albums (including the Taking Liberties / Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers outtake collections) in four years must be due for the critical pillory and a good time will be had by all. But Costello has managed to produce albums that have each shown a marked improvement on the previous set while always delivering songs that are far more than reheated past offerings.
As usual the first impression is of disappointment as he fails to capitalise on the areas he opened up on the last set and then you realise that he's taken another worthwhile tangent and you discover even more than you had previously hoped.
The most stark improvement is the growing maturity of his personal barbs the attacks seem to be more considered, less frantic and consequently more potent. His grasp of his twisting melody trademark becomes firmer as the tunes snake their natural course until Costello rears up on himself and takes it loan always interesting conclusion.
The "Those without whom this wouldn't be possible" department, namely The Attractions and Nick Lowe, are performing flawlessly. The Thomas twins Bruce and Pete (no relation) have evolved into one of the finest rhythm sections in the country creating a tall and punchy base on which Steve Nieve can weave dexterous textures.
Elvis himself is still unwilling to keep his voice monochrome and insists on experimenting with tone in an almost three dimensional sense, developing his sandpaper rasp as much as the sweeter gears of his larynx.
The highlights on this 14 track set include the classic elegance of "Clubland," a single that should have been, if there ever was one. Then there's the big beat of "Lovers Walk" which has more than a tinge of Bo Diddley swagger. There's the effortlessness of the pretty melodies on "Never Be A Man," "New Lace Sleeves" and the This Year's Model styled "White Knuckles."
Then there's the tour de force of a Costello Motown bopper "From A Whisper To A Scream" that has Glenn Tilbrook swapping phrases with the bespectacled one like an Anglocised Sam & Dave and the melody even manages to have overtones of Squeeze.
But the honours must be shared with the poignant "Shot With His Own Gun" that shows that the Costello cutting edge hasn't lost one gram of bite.
The Costello formula should be getting boring by now but while he still invests energy and care into his work and then sidesteps the pitfalls with agility and intelligence then he's going to put oft the execution a few times more.