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Blood & Chocolate – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Blood & Chocolate

1986, 8.5/10
Elvis Costello has described Blood & Chocolate as a pissed-off, divorced, 32 year old’s take on his early sound. He’s reunited with the Attractions and with producer Nick Lowe, and if allthis sounds like a desperate attempt to recapture the earlier spark, improbably it works. Blood & Chocolate was recorded in a single room with the band playing together at stage volume, an unusual practice for a studio album. This gives Blood & Chocolate an energy and anger that had been absent from most of Costello’s 1980s’ work. The album’s lyrics were informed by Costello’s private life; he married Pogues bass-player Cait O’Riordan in 1986.

It’s the longest songs on Blood & Chocolate that leave the biggest impression. ‘I Want You’ is almost mantra-like in its quiet intensity, while ‘Tokyo Storm Warning’ is one of the loudest songs on the disc, full of rage and bluster. The closer ‘Next Time Around’ is uncharacteristically hopeful and bouncy from Costello, while ‘Crimes of Paris’ is pretty and largely acoustic.

Blood & Chocolate feels like the end of an era for Costello – his followup effort, Spike, didn’t emerge until 1989, and he rarely worked with The Attractions again, after a rify with Bruce Thomas. But it caps off a marvellous 10 years of music making from Costello, during which he created 11 often excellent studio albums.

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