This Year’s Model
By the time Elvis Costello recorded his sophomore album, he had recruited a sharp backing band, The Attractions. With Steve Nieve’s organ work and Bruce Thomas’ busy bass, Costello’s guitar is pushed to the back, and the record is much more idiosyncratic and vital than with the generic Clover. Costello’s even angrier and more aggressive than on his debut and for many people, This Year’s Model is Costello’s best work, but I find that it doesn’t have as many memorable tunes as his best records, even though it bristles with nervous energy. The sound of Nieve’s Vox Continental organ also homogenises the album and makes it all blend together.
Most of the most memorable tracks are because of the attitude and aggression – there’s a pair of masturbation songs in ‘Pump It Up’ and ‘The Beat’, while ‘(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’ is aggressive and memorable, with Costello spitting out lyrics like “But there’s no place here for the mini-skirt waddle/Capital punishment, she’s last year’s model”. There’s the anti-fascist message of ‘Night Rally’, while This Year’s Model slows down for ‘Little Triggers’, a sensitive tale of overwrought teenage lust.
I know I’m in the minority on This Year’s Model, but it’s never quite connected for me, despite the great lyrics and impassioned delivery.