Elvis Costello - This Year's Model (Cover Artwork)

Elvis Costello

This Year's Model (1978)


When recording My Aim Is True (1977), Elvis Costello was never quite satisfied with having the session men of Graham Parker's the Rumour and Huey Lewis' Clover fill in on what would become some his most notable work, but he worked with what he had and that heart and passion shows on the final record. The second time around, Costello rounded up his own band, and we see where his' musical visions truly lie.

Kicking off the album with "No Action," we are introduced to the Attractions, Costello's backing band (Steve Nieve - Keyboard, Pete Thomas - Drums, Bruce Thomas - Bass). The song is an infectious, fast-paced power pop number about regret, guilt and jealousy with a vocal delivery of snotty nonchalance; it is no doubt a template for many pop-punk anthems in the future.

"Pump it Up," the album's second single, spirals the album into a wild party. Its Mod-inspired tempo has Pete and Bruce's rhythm section stomping and thumping through both the verse and chorus, all the while being held together by Nieve's carousel-esque keyboarding. Costello is not afraid to take a back seat, to let the rest of his band shine so vibrantly.

The album allows its listener to settle down and wipe off the sweat, with Costello's follow-up to "Alison," a bluesy hard-edged ballad entitled "Little Triggers." Its bittersweet lyrics with Costello's sincere delivery gives the album some breathing room and lets the listener soak in the atmosphere. As a standalone track, "Little Triggers" may fall short against a more classic Costello tune such as "Alison," but here, it allows a breakdown in tempo, a "smoke break" during a rambunctious party so to speak; it marks as a great example of Costello's album-making talents.

Don't get too comfortable though, Elvis and the Attractions burst back into action, with "You Belong to Me," the ska-tinged "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea," all the way to the speedy "Lipstick Vogue." It's on this track, where we see Elvis and the Attractions in top form, from the racy tom-tom work of Pete Thomas, to Costello's own nasty snarl. He tells us the story of a regretful one night stand through a fast paced punk rock track that clocks in at three minutes.

"Radio Radio" closes the U.S. version of the album with biting urgency. Costello's attack on the media and marketing world, his cynical wit takes center stage, as he runs through lines as "I wanna bite the hand that feeds me," and he truely does. Costello was titled as the "Angry Young Man" after the release of My Aim is True, and it's on This Year's Model where he refuses to set that record straight.