With the release of Armed Forces, Elvis Costello displays once again why he's at the top of the heap of "new-wave" artists with the general contemporary listening public. As with his two previous L.P.'s (My Aim is True and This Year's Model), Costello's subject material ranges over and under anything and everything he pleases.
The album begins with the tune "Accidents Will Happen." The album was in the number seven spot of Rolling Stone's Top 100 Album Chart last week and this cut was one of the strong reasons why. It's certainly receiving its share of air-time on the F.M. dial. Elvis likes to counter his music with lyrics contrary to the mood of the melody. Such is the case with the cut "Oliver's Army." With lyrics such as "Only takes one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white nigger," Elvis seems to be trying to make himself a spokesman of the times. Approaching the end of side one, he slows it way down and mellows out the mood as he humbles himself to a woman in "Party Girl."
Side Two opens with "Goon Squad," a driving tune lamenting the fate of a young misled youth. Nazi Germany immediately came to my mind after hearing this song. "Moods For Moderns," the third cut on side two, particularly appealed to me. However, as with so much of Costello's music. I don't know why I like it, I just do. Closing off the side is the album's finest cut (along with "Oliver's Army"), Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding." This had got to be the album's ultimate contemporary social comment, as Elvis belts out "Where are the strong? And who are the trusted? And where is that harmony, sweet harmony?" He sings this song with a lot of feeling, as if screaming to the world in hope that they might listen.
Elvis Costello is very much a strong and productive figure in contemporary music right now, regardless of what type of musical classification one cares to tack on him In a world where so much talent is either stagnating or going disco. Elvis continues to offer a fresh and very different style. I'm looking forward to his next L.P.