Sydney Morning Herald, July 1, 1996

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All This Useless Beauty

Elvis Costello

Shane Danielsen

The shadow of Costello's Imperial Bedroom looms large across this collection of songs written for (and with) other performers. For one thing, the Attractions evidence a much similiar approach to that album, forsaking the bar-band gusto of Brutal Youth for arrangements far more subtle and ambitious.

For another, there's the deep sense of discontent present in most of these tracks, a streak of romantic pessimism that sites this among the songwriter's most compelling work to date.

Some tracks ("Little Atoms," the title track) possess a similar downbeat defiance to that on the King Of America album, while "The Other End Of The Telescope" (co-written with Aimee Mann and originally featured on 'Til Tuesday's Everything's Different Now) shows just how far he's come as a vocalist: using his strengths (a sleek velveteen croon in the lower register; that deep sudden tremolo) to their fullest, interpreting as well as delivering his convoluted lyrics. And "You Bowed Down" is as anthemic and glorious a pop song as he has written. Superb.

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Sydney Morning Herald, July 1, 1996


Shane Danielsen reviews All This Useless Beauty.


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