Elvis Costello returns with a brilliant new album, Spike, after a two and a half year absence. Spike is a delightful mix of many styles that relate to rock-n-roll such as gospel and funk.
Costello fills the album with many exotic instruments such as Chinese drums, tympanies, Uileann pipes, fiddles and harps. Several songs also have a horn section to back them up. Musically, the songs alternate between a very fast tempo to slow acoustic backings songs.
Costello's lyrical power also shines in Spike as the songs range from political topics to those of personal relationships. "Let Him Dangle" describes an execution where Costello asks, "If killing is such a terrible crime / Why does this bloodthirsty chorus come round from time to time / Let him dangle."
In the gospel-style "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," Costello says that "One day you're going to have to face / A deep dark truthful mirror / And it's going to tell you things that I still love you too much to say."
Costello also throws in humor in "God's Comic," where the comic meets God who is on a water-bed saying "I've been wading through all this unbelievable junk and wondering if I should have given the world to the monkeys."
The album's most haunting song is "Tramp The Dirt Down," a scathing political song with a sorrowful melody. In it Costello looks at the politicians and says, "I'd like to live long enough to savor / That's when they finally put you in the ground / I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down." At the conclusion of the song his discouragement shows with the lines "I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap / 'Cos when they finally put you in the ground / They'll stand there laughing and tramp the dirt down."
Spike features several well-known players including Chrissie Hynde, Roger McGwinn, Benmont Trench and Paul McCartney. McCartney also co-wrote two tracks with Costello including "Veronica," the first single.
Spike is another brilliant addition to the works of one of the greatest singer/songwriters.