History: This album was a return for Costello to his usual backing group, The Attractions. The album reached #16 on the charts, and was a success with critics who reviewed the album. Costello even used his nickname for some of the album, Napoleon Dynamite. You may associate this name with the 2004 movie, but Costello believes they stole it from him though it's been denied. The singles that were released from this album struggled to chart.
Vocals: Costello's vocals can be a hit or miss. For the slower songs he sounds a lot better, and then when the music picks up to be more rock it just doesn't sound as good. "Battered Old Bird" was one of the songs where Costello's voicing sounded really good. I liked the slower acoustics of the song, and felt he didn't have to force his vocals to go that extra mile to make it a rock vibe. At the beginning with songs like "Uncomplicated" it was a rough start to listening to the album as his voice just sounded like it was breaking under the pressure of raising it to another level.
Instrumentals: Costello not only contributes to vocals but a lot the instrumentals as well. He is on the guitars and even the bass. Steve Neive is on the piano and organ. You have Bruce Thomas on bass and electric guitar as well, and contributing more with that. Pete Thomas is on drums, and throws in some talent with the saxophone as well. The list of people involved instrumentally with the album goes on, but this was some of the main contenders on the album.
Recording: The positive is that the way Costello sings, and the band he picks to back him up at least give the music this vibe that transcends time well. Costello voicing just doesn't work for every era though. The guy has got to have a lot of fans, I hear a lot about him, but I've never met Costello fans, so I do wonder what it would be like to have a discussion about the music. For some songs his voicing really works.
I believe this is the third Costello I've heard now. The first one was really good, and the second was a bit rougher, but this one balances out those two. His voicing is unique enough to see why people are allured to the sound of it. You get a mix of acoustics and rock on this album that isn't like you'll hear anywhere else as well.
Rating 7 of 10.