An album in which the Elvis Costello we all used to know, the tuneful, literate sub-punk, returns and kicks some spitting songs into gear. Conceived whilst on tour in 1999, The Delivery Man is a song cycle (but not as off-putting as that suggests). Focusing on three women of different ages and their relationships with men, the album is written from the perspectives of the characters. Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris lend vocal majesty to some of the slower country-tinged tracks, but the XTC-like strong driving rhythm is the most notable feature, as Costello leans back towards his inner angry young man. Songs like The Name of This Thing Is Not Love and Bedlam are as good as anything in 20 years, and mean that you don't need to follow the lyrics too carefully to enjoy the album. Some of the slower story pieces layer on the melodrama too richly, but as indulgences go, Mr Costello can be forgiven this one.