THIS YEAR'S MODEL is packaged with a 28-page booklet that includes rare photos and printed song lyrics. For his second album, Costello fine-tuned his aesthetic by abandoned the California studio cat accompanists of his debut for the more aggressive, quirky and very British Attractions, who would virtually define EC's sound over the next several years. Where MY AIM IS TRUE highlighted Costello's rootsy influences (the Band, etc.), THIS YEAR'S MODEL wholeheartedly embraces the "new wave" out-with-the-old mindset, favoring tightly-wound ferocity over back-porch-isms.
Irresistibly catchy, in a twitchy, neurotic, white-knuckled way, THIS YEAR'S MODEL is Costello at his edgiest. The classic "Pump It Up" pummels the listener with garage-band organ, pounding drums, and HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED-style ranting. "Radio, Radio" turned into something of an anti-authoritarian anthem for Costello. The snaky guitar and reggae-tinged drums of "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea" complement Costello's verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown vocal performance nicely. Come to think of it, so does nearly everything else here.
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