Elvis Costello's continuing fancy with language has designed this year's model: Trust. The album has no one theme, which is nice, and quite different from the current literary climate (which has been called "rotting formalism").
Costello is a poet, but not a stuffy one. You don't need a list of definitions to listen to the album, as Elvis points out, singing: "pretty words don't mean much anymore."
His puns are twists, turns and tosses of trustworthy old phrases that suddenly take on fresh meanings.
The album has a wide range of bewildering viewpoints, some of which I will not second-guess the Master about. But trust does equal power, which can be abused, and Costello does sing a couple of tunes about money, sex and romance. Judge the cover's Bogart-style pose for yourself and decide how much of the album is from Elvis' own diary entries.
The sound of the album is as wide-ranging as its viewpoints. The band's current hit single in Europe is "Clubland," the aggressive opening song. Some of the other rockers include "Strict Time" and my favorite, "From a Whisper to a Scream," an uptight duet featuring Glenn Tilbrook of the British act Squeeze.
"Different Finger" is thoroughly C & W, in which Elvis nervously frets, "please put your ring on a different finger, I can't stand those suspicious glances." It is followed by "White Knuckles," which makes me wonder if the girl from "Different Finger" refused to remove her ring.
"Shot With His Own Gun" is a haunting number, emphasizing piano and vocals. I feel that Elvis is warning us to be careful when considering our next one-night stand, lest we get hit by an "emotional ricochet." I can't do justice to the rest of the thorned wit that Trust contains. Get the album, and listen to it carefully.
The style and attitude of "Fish 'n' Chip Paper" rivals "Shot With His Own Gun" directly. This upbeat song is one to make you laugh out loud: "yesterday's news is tomorrow's fish 'n' chip paper."
Indeed, Costello is so complex and difficult to figure out that you may get more out of this review if you use it to wrap your fish in it. Trust your own judgement.