It's not my practice to borrow lines from Rolling Stone, but I was going to say it all along, anyway: this king's aim is truer than ever with This Year's Model.
Face it, America, we can't ignore Elvis Costello any longer. You can't pass off his critically acclaimed debut, My Aim Is True as a fluke in light of this latest offering. What we got here is a case of hidden genius manifesting itself in themes more common than a head cold. The music is the most accessible since Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the lyrics colder than Dylan's "Positively Fourth Street." If this album doesn't produce at least one top Forty hit, I'll cancel my Billboard subscription and burn my First Class ticket. All of this means that I like this album.
This Year's Model continues the king's lifelong attack of people — usually women — who have done him wrong. Take "No Action" for instance:
I don't want to kiss you
I don't want to touch!
I don't want to see you
'cause I don't miss you that much.
Ably backed by The Attractions, Elvis offers music that reverts back to many mid-sixties stylistics: the plastic organ ala "?" and the Mysterians, rockabilly guitar and Bill Wyman bass riffs.
But there is more. There is a definite non-Elvis intro to "Hand in Hand"; "Well, don't ask me to apologize / I won't ask you to forgive me / when I'm gonna go down / you're gonna come with me."
There are a few physical changes here, also. First of all, the jacket photo includes the Attractions, there's a suggestive (of the macabre) inner sleeve photo depicting decapitated mannequins; and the king no longer looks like Woody Allen or Buddy Holly — he looks like Elvis Costello: a working class British accountant with a penchant for skinny ties and narrow lapels.
If you plan to score this album, I would advise you to pick up the import copy, on Radar Records. It's about a dollar more, but includes two songs not on the American (Columbia) release, including the spectacular "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea," possibly one of Elvis' two best.
But import or domestic, the king is back with another collection that anyone who has ever lost at love will be able to identify with. This kid's growing fast and with him grows music's hottest talent since Bruce Springsteen. Don't be deceived by his twerp-like looks. give This Year's Model a test spin.