If Elvis Costello had a brutal youth, he has certainly overcome some of it, turning out as highly a successful musical career as he has. With his most recent recording, Brutal Youth, he has returned to his musical youth by hooking up with the members of his old band, the Attractions.
The resulting fifteen songs may not be perfect, but nor can they be termed brutal, While they lack the immediacy and energy that made Costello popular fifteen years ago, they constitute a healthy recovery from Elvis' acute case of tedium, marked by last year's string quarteted The Juliet Letters.
Brutal Youth sounds like an Elvis Costello record, with his cutting vocal style and weathered pop sensibilities adding an air of familiarity to the album. Granted, there are no songs comparable to "Pump it up," "Alison," or even "Veronica" even, but the tunes arc highly listenable, enjoyable.
Listen for "Clown Strike," and "Kinder Murder" for upbeat tunes and "You Tripped at Every Step" for more melancholy music.
The greatest drawback to Brutal Youth is its lack of stand out tracks. causing the album to drag towards the end. The above three tracks are all within the first six songs, simply because the music fades to "more of the same" by the bottom ten.
If pulling the album on and doing something other than actively listening is your thing, then Brutal Youth will more than satisfy. If, however, you want cutting songs and plan to live and die by your albums, dig out your vinyl copy of My Aim Is True and you'll really be satisfied.
Elvis has lost his angry young man approach and his melancholy old man look is just beginning_