Elvis Costello

When I Was Cruel

When the opening track, “45,” starts with a lone guitar and Elvis Costello’s yearning, wobbly voice, sounding like it’s come straight from his ‘70s debut My Aim Is True, we know instantly that Costello is returning to the sound that made him a rock god. When I Was Cruel represents a welcomed, nasty return to form for the thick-framed one, who sneers and bellows on this album in ways that evoke wonderful memories of just how pissed off this guy can get. Lyrically, the album is a mind-blower (listen to what he has to say on “When I Was Cruel No. 2") and musically, it’s both melodic and fierce. Costello has never released a truly bad album, but his craft has become a bit inconsistent since the late ‘80s’ Spike. When I Was Cruel shows that he’s got plenty left in his angry-man arsenal.