Release Date: Oct 12, 2018
Record label: Concord
More than a decade ago, Elvis Costello suggested his recording career may be over. "I'm not of a mind to record anymore," he told Mojo. "There's no point… In terms of recorded music, the pact's been broken--the personal connection between the artist and the listener. [The] MP3 has dismantled the intended shape of an album." For a spell, it seemed Costello was making good on that promise.
Elvis Costello had already taken a few steps from the "angry young man" persona that dominated his first two albums by the time he began work on 1982's Imperial Bedroom, but that was the disc where his evolution from brash upsetter to gifted pop craftsman began in earnest. In 2017, Costello staged a concert tour in which he re-imagined the songs from that LP, and while that may or may not have put those tunes and their style back into his mind, 2018's Look Now certainly is an extension of the mature and literate pop songwriting that he first fully embraced in that material. Look Now often feels like a cross between Imperial Bedroom and Painted from Memory, Costello's 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, and not just because Bacharach co-wrote three tracks with Costello.
On only his third album this decade, Costello continues to plunder his own past for inspiration. His last record - Wise Up Ghost, the 2013 collaboration with The Roots - revelled in dicing and splicing back-pages fragments to create intriguing new pieces, but Look Now is, in various places, a more straightforward archaeological exercise. Long-term fans will recognise a handful of these songs from the tail-end of the 20th century.
The Lowdown: Elvis Costello might be one of the most dexterous and accomplished pop songwriters of the rock era, but he’s not above dipping back into his own well from time to time. The singer has spent a lot of time in recent years touring and performing 1982’s Imperial Bedroom, so it makes sense that his latest outing, Look Now, smacks of that record’s baroque pop flair. With his trusty sidekicks The Imposters back in tow, Costello’s first record of new music in five years is an intricately detailed and meticulously crafted affair, one longer on arrangements and musicianship than rock and roll spit and vinegar.