Elvis Costello and the Attractions have crammed 15 songs onto their excellent new album and while none is exactly frenetic, this is not a country record like their last.
As with all Elvis Costello records, Imperial Bedroom sounds better each time you play it because of the wealth of musical and lyrical ideas waiting to be discovered in the grooves. The task is made somewhat easier by the inclusion of a lyric sheet, which is a first for Elvis.
While I do miss the rougher side of Elvis, it's hard to quarrel with the quality or his songs, As always they deal with conflicts between individuals, particularly those in relationships — hence the Imperial Bedroom title — with the protagonist always losing and huffing. This is the same character which has followed Elvis since his early hit, "Alison," and this album is all the stronger for that connection.
The only ominous note comes from an orchestra which creeps on to a couple of the tracks and in most cases does not justify its presence. Never trust a pop song with an orchestra on it.