Elvis Costello is like no other rock star, period. The name, the spectacles, the clothes and particularly the way he holds his guitar — well, it is hardly star material. But My Aim Is True in no uncertain terms establishes the man as a talent whose full potential, though not always in evidence, is quite awesome.
My Aim Is True is a very important album in that it once and for all explodes the trite "boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, etc. ad nauseam" routine of teen dreams. The recurring concerns of his songs are normal (?) traumas of love and other adolescent problems, but rather than expound the "Singing in the Rain" / "If You Leave Me Now" sterility turned out by other songsmiths, Costello portrays the stark reality of modern love. There are no "gin and tonic" romances here: instead there is pain and heartbreak and moments of fragile joy, all recounted with sensitivity and compassion.
Costello's lyrical excellence and originality are allied to what can best be described as a series of 60's R & B juke box standard tunes. Musically, Elvis Costello owes a lot to Van Morrison and the Stones, but the sound is definitely Elvis Costello by virtue of his distinctive vocals and the words which are all powerful.
The brand of music that this man produces can be truly emotive and intensely personal. On songs like "Pay It Back" — the analysis of a personality crisis — or "Mystery Dance" — the tale of an embarrassing failure at his first deflowering — or the selfconscious "Miracle Man," the formula is truly intoxicating. The only criticism which can be levelled at My Aim Is True is that it is far too agonising and personal a statement, and that the dozen tales of emotional torture tend too much to melodrama to be a complete success.
If Bob Seger intended his song "Beautiful Loser" for somebody, it must have been this man. With My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello has made one of the year's finest album — at least to this stage.