Like it or not, you'd better watch out 'cause talent will out — which is exactly why you're hearing so much about Elvis Costello these days. He's not a punk rocker and, no, he has nothing to do with the New Wave either. To paraphrase Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln, he's just plain Elvis Costello — a young man whose principle interest just happens to be subtle revenge and frustration.
First and foremost, E.C. is a writer with a mordant sense of humour and it's to his credit that he's managed to package his talents within such a commercially acceptable lyrical format as the songs on My Aim Is True demonstrate — without nary a sign of compromise on the part of the artist.
On "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" Elvis sings, "I said I'm so happy I could die. She said, 'Drop Dead' then left with another guy." Earlier, on "Watching The Detectives," he observes, "You snatch a tune and you match your cigarette... she pulls the eyes out with a face like a magnet... I don't know how much more of this I can take... She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake...." Clearly, not since "Baby's On Fire" and "Driving Me backwards" have such Psychosentiments been vinyl inlaid.
It's not all bizarro, though: "Mystery Dance," a one minute and thirty-five second metaphor for a first time sexual initiation out and out 1950 rocks with the same kind of urgency that punctuated his Saturday Night Live performances.
Elvis Costello, former computer programmer (figures) has, at 22, produced a debut album that, flawed as it is, cannot be ignored. Beneath the production of Nick Lowe there lies a seething dissatisfaction — almost hatred — of what Costello sees around him. Unlike many contemporary writers, however, Costello doesn't used his angst to alienate the listener but, rather, to form a common bond.
If you don't believe me, look no further than My Aim Is True's first track, the emblematic "Welcome To The Working Week." Not only is it a superb introduction to the nine-to-five working class atmosphere of Costello's world, but it's an immense comfort to know that, at 6:45 on a Monday morning, there's a record one can put on and hear, "Welcome to the working week, I know it don't thrill you, I hope it don't kill you."
Elvis has been there and back and this is his story. If you don't want to hear it, go screw off — Elvis doesn't need you anyway. However, if you're prepared to listen, you'll be rewarded — in all probability with a vision of yourself.
With My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello has gashed a line in his soul with rock 'n' roll his blade.
What you do with it is up to you.