“Look Now” Elvis Costello & The Imposters
“Look Now” is a sprawling and ambitious collection of chamber pop-rock. Consequence of Sound calls it “swanky and sophisticated,” and that’s an apt description of this effort from the UK-born, New York-based master (real name: Declan Patrick MacManus) of pop-rock, who has been churning out incredible albums since 1977. Costello pulled together songs that he has been working on for many years and playing live for this 12-song collection, which also features outstanding performances from his back-up band, the Imposters. An extraordinary album!
Recommended: 1, 5, 4, 3, 7, 6. No FCCs detected.
1. (5:35) Under Lime — Big, bold, brilliant chamber pop-rock epic. Classic Elvis Costello sound — melodic and catchy, with a big chorus and full orchestration. ****
2. (2:29) Don’t Look Now — Sentimental piano ballad. Co-written with Burt Bacharach.
3. (4:17) Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter — Co-written with Carole King. Features the hooks of some of her classic hits written in NYC’s Brill Building in the 1960s. Jazzy and artsy, with 60s era girl background singers. Clashy horns. ***
4. (3:53) Stripping Paper — Lilting, melancholy piano-based tune. Raw and honest storytelling. Poignant, as the protagonist reminisces about his lifetime as he strips layers of wallpaper from his walls. ***
5. (3:33) Unwanted Number — Throwback feeling to the 60s. Precise, almost march-like structure with a strong bass and drum track. About a teenager dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. ***
6. (4:26) I Let The Sun Go Down — Lush, string-laden ballad. Deliberate tempo. Reminiscent of Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.” ***
7. (3:46) Mr. And Mrs. Hush — Prancing promenade. Funky and soulful, with girl backup singers and brass accents. Bowie-like in its daring. ***
8. (3:39) Photographs Can Lie — Laid-back jazz club feeling — with Costello’s vocals soaring above Steve Nieve’s piano fills. Gentle bossa nova beat. Co-written with Burt Bacharach.
9. (3:18) Dishonor The Stars — Another tuneful piano ballad. A slow dance.
10. (4:50) Suspect My Tears — A bit cheesy. Throaty lead vocals, with full orchestration, big female chorus, and dramatic production values.
11. (3:22) Why Won’t Heaven Help Me? — Fun and syncopated pop-rock. Easy listening. Crooning vocals.
12. (4:11) He’s Given Me Things — Elegant piano-driven closer. Another tune co-written with Burt Bacharach. Sad and sentimental, with strings and a nice clockwork beat.