Music: When I Was Cruel

Elvis Costello

Costello loves to play the mad inventor, mixing exotic rhythms, jazzy melodies and baffling metaphors into songs that dazzle for their strangeness rather than any feeling they convey. But Costello is at his best when he kicks back and reverts to the witty post-punker he was in 1978, a bespectacled dork with a chip on his shoulder and an uncanny knack for turning out catchy tunes. This album is so much fun, and Costello's best in a long time, because of how often he returns to that clever post-punker mode. Instead of seeming dated, these moments feel right in tune with...

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