Elvis Costello’s long awaited new album Look Now has finally been released, and mostly to rapturous applause. It’s for good reason too, as the album shows Costello really pulling it out of the bag this time around, showing that the master is still perfectly capable of rocking out in his own special way.
By Jane Howkins
Elvis Costello is a musician well known for his prowess on the guitar but on Look Now that instrument takes a slight backbench compared to the driving piano and bass. There’s more of an all round sense of musicality here than being focused on one instrument, and it actually makes the tracks on the album sound a bit more all rounded, although long time fans may miss Costello’s driving riffs. A couple of tracks feature the piano predominantly, with Photographs Can Lie being our favourite of these tracks, with the song featuring a mournful chord progression that is simply beautiful.
Despite these musical changes, Look Now actually sounds more cohesive to us as an Elvis Costello album than some of his more recent outputs. In recent times Costello has seemed to be trying to chase new genre conventions and styles, whereas here he seems perfectly comfortable being who he is, and he hasn’t sounded this good for a long time. The tracks here are typical rock and roll songs in the style he has become known for, but it doesn’t sound forced, and makes for a much more cohesive album as a whole.
It’s an elegant album (if such a term can be used for an album), and everything flows particularly well – a lot of care has obviously been put into the production side of things alongside the songwriting aspects. Costello has always been a good songwriter, and whilst the lyrical allegories he is known for are lessened here, there’s still a joy to behold in his vocal delivery and the way he writes the world.
On Look Now, Elvis Costello doesn’t quite re-invent the wheel, although we feel that he gets painfully close at times. Instead he sounds refreshed and rejuvenated, having produced something that fans have been waiting for for a long time – an album that sounds like classic Costello whilst still managing to move forward with the times.