Friday, January 21, 2005


Clock the Putz

by Glenn Cripes

What happens when you've shot your artistic wad and outlived your brilliancy? You get a job and Punch the Clock.

Check out my new look! Yeah, I invented it

This is the first LP of Costello's artistic decline and he knew it, ergo the title. He had a good run. This Year's Model, Get Happy, and Imperial Bedroom were brilliant, original records, and the rest of them weren't bad either. Nothing lasts forever, and luckily for Elvis, he had learned enough songwriter's tricks to fool the masses with smoke and mirrors.

For instance, Let Them All Talk is simply a Bacharach swipe (Always Something There To Remind Me) with fake soul horns added. This album is swimming in those goddamn horns and female backup vocals. Songs like TKO (Boxing Day) are the worst of the lot. At least he attempts to work a little bit of a melody into his bid for a single Every Day I Write the Book, but the end result rings false.

Costello tries real hard to be profound with numbers like Shipbuilding and Pills and Soap, but he's just tiresome. Attempts at amusing fall flat with Mouth Almighty ('Crawling round with my crooner cufflinks and my calling card cologne'?--ewwww), and The World and His Wife ('the conversation melts like chocolate down our open jaws through the loud appeal of laughter'--the mind boggles). The Element Within Her isn't bad, but that's just because it isn't as patently phony as the rest of this record.

Costello's next LP Goodbye Cruel World was even worse. To his credit, he admitted it. After that it was collaborations with Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and numerous prestige artists, all in a desperate bid to hide the space his muse left when it ran dry.

Without Costello, we wouldn't have had Joe Jackson, would we? We live in an age where the terms 'singer/songwriter' and 'dork' are synonymous.

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