on 9 March 2002
Just when we had given up all hope of the angry legend writing another album that us, his fans, would actually 'enjoy' not just 'appreciate' Mr.Costello pulls this little masterpiece out of the bag...
It wouldn't be hard to misplace this album with Costello's earlier, angry young nerd records 'This Years Model' and 'My Aim Is True', for it is equally as itchy as his early efforts, but with his ever growing intelligence as a songwriter becoming more and more prominent it wouldn't be hard to call this 'easily the best Elvis Costello album' - particularly on first listen.
Opening with the superb 'Pony Street' and continuing the bitterness throughout all 15 songs this is splendidly basic compared to many of Costello's later works, and how it works so well. This is the album Costello fans everywhere had been waiting for, the strain on '20% Amnesia' is classic Elvis, 'You tripped at every step' is almost has heartbreaking as 1978's 'Alison', 'Kinder Murder' is just frightening... I could go on but you get the message - this is an undiscovered masterpiece, everybody should have a copy.
With all of the Attractions, Costello's original line up, playing in some form or another on the recording, and with the inspirational Nick Lowe also appearing, you can't possibly imagine a new-wave album as a good as this. There is a few though, but Costello wrote them all, but don't let that put you off this album that's just a credit to his genius. I strongly recommend this album to anybody looking to get into Elvis Costello, infact, I strongly recommend this album to anybody.
on 20 March 2014
I rarely take the time to review an Album even though I buy 40-50 each year but credit where credit is due EC really produced a seriously good collection of songs here. For me this is the most accomplished album of his rather impressive career to date. Most singer songwriters fall into one of two categories. Those that are focussed on lyrics and those preferring to focus more on the music. Very few excel at both but this album proves our man does. I know some people like to see blockbuster singles in there but for me it is the consistency of a body of work that makes a truly great album.
A handful of these songs (Most notably London's Brilliant Parade, Favourite Hour, Just About Glad, Still Too Soon To Know, You Tripped at Every Step, All The Rage) have melodies and chord structures are worthy of Beatles status imo. Lets face it when it comes to lyrics EC is up there with the best. What is perhaps a surprise to some is that some of there melodies are very complicated bordering on genius. Once heard they stay with you. EC clearly is a pro who cares about his songs. He doesn't sell us short on an arrangement because he wants to focus on the lyrics. I get the impression he poured over many of these arangements. In contrast many artists don't bother. They think a good lyric or a good tune or theme is enough whilst they overlook a middle 8 or a decent ending that finishes the song and brings out the maximum it has to offer. They become lazy.
Brutal Youth is an example of the 'class' of Elvis Costello as a songwriter and I am sure Brutal Youth will continue to sell for years to come. Great job EC.
This 1994 album was Costello's return (after an 8 year gap) to recording with his band, The Attractions, and, for me, represented a return to form, with a collection of songs that, for melody and inspiration, approaches that of his finest recordings (My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, Imperial Bedroom). In fact, although all three original Attractions (Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas and Bruce Thomas) do appear on the album, Costello also enlisted the services of legendary producer and songwriter Nick Lowe to replace Bruce T playing bass on a number of the songs.
Whilst Brutal Youth does not quite have the consistency of Costello's very best recordings, at its best it features a brilliantly compelling mix of rockier songs and ballads, as well as being peppered with some typically witty, caustic and dark lyrics courtesy of Mr MacManus. In the former up-tempo category we have the disturbing tale of rape and murder in the ironically titled Kinder Murder, featuring an appropriately sneering vocal and some searing guitar from Costello; similarly, 13 Steps Lead Down is another vibrant and dark tale of abuse, with some brilliantly dissonant guitar to play us out (sound-wise, this could easily have been a deleted cut from My Aim Is True); 20% Amnesia is a rocking, vibrant and lyrical gem, with its nihilistic tale of misplaced and unattained global ambitions, whilst My Science Fiction Twin, is another disturbing tale of modern day illusions (and fifty foot women) and to boot has a brilliantly infectious beat.
On the ballad front, my favourite (albeit quite a shouty ballad) is Costello's impassioned diatribe on female jealousy and bitchiness encapsulated in Sulky Girl (which features some great band playing), whilst each of You Tripped At Every Step, with its tender account of youthful corruption, and the brilliantly scathing take on relationships in All The Rage ('And don't try to read my mind because it's full of disappearing ink') are also very impressive.
It's a slightly mixed bag, therefore, but nevertheless a fine collection of songs from one of the UK's top drawer songwriters.
on 11 January 2007
This is a great album especially if you like the more raw stuff. I have it on vinyl but had to wait about 3 months after ordering for Amazon to tell me they can't source it any more. If it's deleted it's a crying shame. One or two ordinary tracks (This is Hell, 20% Amnesia) but mostly he's near the top of his game and (maybe) the best final 3 tracks of any CD.
on 28 September 2000
It gets quite difficult to write reviews of Elvis albums as to my mind he rarely releases a dud. Sulky Girl, the first single from this album was a flop, but then, Elvis fans are far more album buyers than your teenybop audience.
All Elvis fans need to know is that it is his usual excellence, blending fine off-beat melodies, sardonic lyrics and a mixture of orchestral arrangements and 'hard' rock. If I ever got to meet Elvis, I would ask him one question: "Can you never find any joy in the world?"