Elvis Costello & The Imposters - The Boy Named If

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2022 CD release.

Maybe revisiting This Year's Model for Spanish Model -- an oddly effective reinterpretation of the 1978 classic featuring new vocals sung in Spanish by a variety of Latinx musicians over the original Attractions instrumentals -- shook something loose in Elvis Costello, as The Boy Named If is his purest dose of rock & roll since maybe Blood & Chocolate. Where that 1986 album teems with resentment and untrammeled ire, The Boy Named If feels exuberant; he's not bloodletting, he's tapping into a musical vein that's proved to be a vital resource throughout his career. The difference is subtle but palpable, a reflection of Costello's status as a rock troubadour. Here, Costello is playing with familiar building blocks -- pumped-up riffs, fleet wordplay, an omnivorous musical appetite -- yet often assembling these elements in fresh, unexpected ways. "Farewell OK" kicks off the proceedings with a dose of pure rock & roll that suggests this album is a simple back-to-basics move, yet it's quickly followed by "The Boy Named If" and "Penelope Halfpenny," two numbers suggestive of the florid pop of Imperial Bedroom but delivered with a muscular wallop.

The Boy Named If often plays upon memories of Attractions albums past, but never in a nostalgic way. Costello isn't winking at his audience, he's drawing upon his deep musical vocabulary to create songs that recall his catalog yet feel playful and alive. Much of this liveliness is due to Costello's batch of original tunes being among his sturdiest of the 21st century. The key to their success, though, is that he's not writing toward a concept, he's writing songs that allow the Imposters -- his longtime supporting band featuring all the original Attractions minus the bassist -- to show their sinewy skill.

So much of the pleasure of The Boy Named If lies in how the Imposters deliver everything from the slow-burning ballad "Paint the Red Rose Blue" to the tight R&B groove of "Magnificent Hurt" with the clean efficiency of a rock & roll combo. The Imposters have never sounded better on record -- and they've never sounded more like the Attractions, either, which isn't entirely a coincidence -- and that helps give The Boy Named If its infectious kick: it may feel like an old-fashioned Elvis Costello album, but it sounds entirely fresh.



SKU 602438366873
Barcode # 602438366873
Brand Capitol Records

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