Look Now – Elvis Costello and the Imposters (Conchord Records)

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Over forty years since Elvis Costello’s calling Card “My Aim Is True” first shocked and delighted, his first offering for five years “Look Now” sees Elvis returning to his classic formula. Great, articulate songs which are well arranged and exquisitely played. The Imposters are effectively The Attractions without bassist Bruce Thomas. They famously fell out (if you want to know why, check out Bruce’s very funny book “The Big Wheel” it’s fascinating).

Steve Nieve’s delicate keyboards are the dominate instrument on a collection of songs which is as strong as ever. This is no surprise, especially given the co-write credits include Burt Bacharach and Carole King.  We are at the top table and no mistake.

Costello’s lyrics are still as visceral and barbed as ever. With his tongue firmly in his cheek he starts with “Under Lime” – a cautionary, seedy, tale of a rock star comeback “we know he’s desperate” – autobiography or social comment?  As ever, the line is thin between the two. The songs here are grown up and repay repeated listening. Nothing as instant as Oliver’s Army. The sneering antagonism of “This Years Model” is replaced with a world weary and resigned voice, though one you feel it wouldn’t take too much to rouse.

‘Look Now’ is an excellent edition to a considerable body of work. With his genre hoping and wonderful artistic restlessness, Elvis has often gone in and out of fashion, however what we have here is a competent and studied album. A master performer who is at the top of his game. This album is a must-have for fans of refined songs which look back and yet lean forward. Modern and timeless.


Jack Dent · February 25, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Thanks Simon, great article, I must pick up a copy. To me though, his greatest work was ‘Armed Forces’, evocative of the times and I still have my copy with the fold-out, die-cut cover!

    Harry · April 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    ‘Armed Forces’ is a brilliant album! Goon Squad is my favourite song from it.

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