Critical Writings -> Academic Journals -> Articles & Reviews

Articles and Reviews: MUSIC

All This Useless Beauty
By Elvis Costello and The Attractions

This album signals a welcome return to form by Costello, after last year’s disappointing collection of cover versions, Kojak Variety. Indeed, it takes us right back to the stripped-down rawness of his mid-eighties meisterwerks, King of America and Blood and Chocolate, after the lush and somewhat over-produced recent offerings, Spike and Mighty Like A Rose. Costello has always been at his best when playing with The Attractions, arguably the best backing band in the world.

 

Back

 
 

But it is to the artistry and craft of his songwriting, as always, that one’s attention is drawn. He manages to combine instantly hummable hook-lines within cleverly constructed arrangements in a way which is beyond most of his peers. Stand out cuts here include, judging from the first five or six listenings at least, the title track itself, ‘Complicated Shadows’, ‘You Bowed Down’ and ‘It’s Time’, but I know the CD will rarely leave my player over the next couple of months, since there are new delights to be discovered and savoured at every turn.
Costello has such a facility at knocking out a tune that it is easy to forget just how good he actually is. This album reminds us once again that Elvis is King.

First published in 46A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home
Biography
Fiction
Critical Writings
Travel Writings
Awards