Review by: Syd Spence
Album assigned by: Dinar Khayrutdinov
This is the second Elvis Costello record I’ve listened to. The first being My Aim is True, which I thought was pretty mediocre pub rock with a bit of working class romanticism thrown in. For those that don’t know about music movements of the ‘70s Britain, pub rock was a back to basics take on rock’n’roll. Essentially it was glam rock on lager instead of cocaine. Eventually it would get angrier and morph into punk rock, but that didn’t happen to Elvis. No, he sought instead to modernize it with the working class romanticism that Thin Lizzy and Bruce Springsteen were peddling. Given that I thought My Aim is True was boring and middling, what would I think of the reincarnation of Buddy Holly three years later? The answer, BETTER.
In fact I would go so far to say this record is in fact good. It has a nice crisp production with Costello’s voice front and the band in the back. The Attractions sound professional and snappy, though not exceptional, they back Costello well. Elvis continues to mime pre-67 pop music, but this time with a little ska and stax style R’n’B thrown into his poppy pub rock. Each of these twenty songs has a hook, and some are pretty good, like the song “The Imposter”. Most of these tracks are upbeat, but he does vary the mood. Unlike My Aim is True, I was never really bored at all. It was interesting all the way through.
Overall, it’s a good album, with emphasis on the word good. When I was assigned this record, I was told that it was a ‘classic’, and perhaps it is, in the modernize pre 67 pop music side of the ‘new wave’ spectrum, but to my ears, it’s just a collection of good songs that never really transcend pleasant. In other words, I don’t think any music aficionado exploring the totality of rock music would miss out too much for skipping Costello’s work. I will say this, if you are looking for some delightful pop tunes, then this isn’t a bad album to get. Just don’t go in thinking this is London Calling level ‘classic,’ because it isn’t. It is good though, check it out if you like Blondie or The Cars or general pop rock.