We start out with No Action. This song is barely over two minutes long but it will be stuck in your head for weeks at a time. The lyrics are great. Let me sum it up: Elvis Costello just followed Romance home, broke into it’s house, and strangled it with a telephone cord. This Year’s Girl is a scathing critique of Fashion and how this year’s girl is next years hack. At this point in time, Elvis Costello could still define jealous rage better than any other person. The man just breathed anger. This would also be a good time to mention his backing band The Attractions. On his first album, Elvis Costello was backed by a band called Clover. They were nothing great but they did their job. Clover would later be renamed The News and be fronted by Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis. Insert American Psycho joke here. The Attractions are really good musicians and early Elvis Costello would be nothing without the squelching keyboards of Steve Nieve. It’s just as essential to the sound as Elvis. The reason I mention it is because it’s up front and center on the best song on the album: The Beat. The Beat is so catchy that it has been statistically proven to be 20% Catchier than the Common Cold. Pump It Up is the song most likely to be recognized by newcomers. It was in Malcolm in the Middle and is on Rock Band. It’s great. You should listen to it.
Little Triggers starts out like a soft ballad but The Attractions kick in and things get grooving. You Belong to Me sounds like Cheap Trick mixed with The Cars. Fortunately, I like both of those bands a lot. Hand In Hand is similar to the previous two tracks but it ends with this fake fade out psychedelic type thing and it’s cool and sets the song apart from what came before. (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea seems like this tough rock song at first. But it’s hook and keyboard reveal it for the pop song it is at heart. It’s also nearly as good as The Beat. So those two songs would be the two best of the album. Not that there is a bad song on the album. There isn’t. I promise. Lip Service has a great shout along chorus as Costello vents more of that perpetual rage he had inside from the years of 1977 to 1980. Living In Paradise pokes fun at the high class yuppies and Lipstick Vogue is more of that angry goodness. Night Rally is a bit of a slower song and takes a few listens to really grasp. Once you do, the ominous air it creates is hard to escape from. Radio, Radio is a classic 70′s song and for good reason. The lyrics completely destroy the credibility of the broadcasting companies and it’s down right venomous in it’s approach.
Story time: Elvis Costello performed on Saturday Night Live back in the late 70′s and they asked him not to do Radio, Radio. So Elvis said “Sure”. When Elvis and The Attractions took the stage, they went into their first song of the set. But those tricksters launched into Radio, Radio spontaneously in the middle of the song. They played the full song. Elvis wasn’t invited back until years later. I’m sorry, SNL. But that’s what you get for telling Elvis Costello what to do. The exact opposite.
Anyways, This Year’s Model is a classic. The tracklist speaks for it’s self and Elvis Costello and The Attractions were never this good again. Their next album, 1980′s Armed Forces is quite good, but it’s no Model. If you haven’t heard this album, do so. Or Elvis Costello might just time travel forwards from 1979 and straight up murder you. Or he might not. But do you want to take that risk?