Elvis Costello and the Attractions / Goodbye Cruel World
Dave Marsh / Rolling Stone
Dubious as I have been about Costello's career since he insulted Ray Charles and began making retrograde music to make up, Imperial Bedroom and Punch the Clock were encouraging, with virtues both musical and lyrical. But this album seems to be taking its title literally, a suicide note to American marketplace expectations (which aren't as unreasonable as the British would have us believe). Costello's phrasing is arch, his sharper lyrics hampered by music that is murky and stiff, and there's not a single track here that really takes off. If you're interested in him as some sort of art song type, you might even get around to liking this.