Elvis Costello may have waited five years to put out a new album, but he didn't forget how to write great pop songs. His new album, When I Was Cruel, will be released on April 23. It's Costello's first album since 1996's All This Useless Beauty, and his seventeenth solo studio album.
The album is classic Elvis Costello. It moves melodically like a roller coaster: slower tracks followed by quicker, rockier ones, and then again by slow tracks. Costello describes the opening track, "45," as "autobiographical arithmetic." It is one of the many standout tracks on the album, and gives the aging Costello a youthful sound.
The album's title track, a seven-minute piece, has a quirky rhythm that only Costello could pull off, including a sample of an Italian pop record from the 60s. It is followed by the sometimes-eerie "Soul for Hire," and "15 Petals," a twisted love song that features a horns section that Costello wrote.
The album then moves into rougher terrain, with tracks like "Dissolve," "Daddy Can I Turn This?" and "Episode of Blonde." Each song tells its story as much with the lyrics as with the way in which it's sung. The album concludes with "Radio Silence" — Costello's closest attempt at a ballad on the album.
The album, coming in at just over 60 minutes, is solid from start to finish. While When I Was Cruel will probably be overlooked at the Grammy's, you'll find that you can easily sing along with it after just a few listens.