Box of Rain

Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If (2022) [24-44]

These energized tracks make it clear that COVID-19’s enforced isolation sparked fresh inspiration in Elvis Costello to rediscover his trademark urgency, not to mention his gifts for wordplay and melody. From the spirited, Beatlesque opener, “Farewell OK” (which has echoes of the bounce of “Welcome to the Working Week”) fans of his songwriting and performances from the past will be pleased. This is the Costello you remember and want to hear again.

In “The Difference” where he asks, “Do you know what turns pleasure to plight?” an insistent beat and touch of Vox organ make for the kind of driving, New Wave pop tune he mastered forty years ago. Costello’s lifelong fascination with roses (see 1991’s Mighty Like a Rose) returns to tell a dreamlike story of, as he has explained, “a bereft couple … one of whom has long invited and courted theatrical darkness only for its violence and cruelty to become all too real.” Set to a determined walking beat and with Steve Nieve leaning into the organ “Magnificent Hurt” resurrects much of Costello’s need to testify! And it’s impossible to mistake the autobiography of the title track, a man Costello describes as an “imaginary friend” and a “second, unpleasant nature.”

The Boy Named If is also that rare pandemic record that sounds as if it was recorded with the band all together in the same room. A trio of strengths buoy the songs here: Costello’s impassioned vocal takes – he’s able to hit all the high notes, with his conspiratorial growl and rising cries both in top form; the twisting, often opaque rhymes that have always been his specialty are again in high gear, as in this couplet from “Mistook Me for a Friend” – “I count my money out/ To pay for contraband/ I carry velvet gloves/ ‘Cause the black gets on your hands;” and most powerfully, Pete Thomas’ incredible drumming. To repeat the adage, Thomas sounds like “a man possessed.” Located forward in the mix, his clattering, fleet, forceful rhythms – always fringed with just a dash of punk rock abandon as in “The Death of Magical Thinking” – are the album’s bedrock and most pronounced musical flavor.

Release Date: January 14, 2022

Track Listing:

  1. Farewell, OK 2:54
  2. The Boy Named If 4:25
  3. Penelope Halfpenny 2:57
  4. The Difference 3:46
  5. What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love? 4:04
  6. Paint The Red Rose Blue 4:46
  7. Mistook Me For A Friend 4:13
  8. My Most Beautiful Mistake 4:47
  9. Magnificent Hurt 3:13
  10. The Man You Love To Hate 4:54
  11. The Death Of Magic Thinking 3:32
  12. Trick Out The Truth 4:53
  13. Mr. Crescent 3:39

WHAT YOU HAVE HIDDEN UP YOUR SLEEVE

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