Village Voice, February 26, 1979

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Armed Forces

Elvis Costello

Robert Christgau

Like his predecessor, Bob Dylan, this ambitious tunesmith offers more as a phrasemaker than as an analyst or a poet, more as a public image than as a thinking, feeling person. He needs words because they add color and detail to his music. I like the more explicitly sociopolitical tenor here — "the boys from the Mersey and the Thames and The Times" evokes the conscripts in Her Majesty's Senior Service more directly than any lover he's inclined to pick on. But I don't find as many memorable bits of language as I did on This Year's Model. And though I approve of the more intricate pop constructions of the music, I found TYM's relentless nastiness of instrumental and (especially) vocal attack more compelling. A good record, to be sure, but not a great one.

A‒

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Village Voice, February 26, 1979


Robert Christgau reviews Armed Forces.


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