Saturday, May 17, 2008

Down The Tracks; Elvis Costello, Momofuku

Pot noodles, that's what the title of Elvis Costello's new album Momofuku refers to. An album title so clever Costello needs to explain it in a press release on his site. The title is a tribute to the inventor of the pot noodle, Momofuku Ando. Elvis cleverly picked the title as a reference on how the album came to be. "Momofuku" was recorded and written within a period of three weeks. The result is the musical variation on pot noodles. Just poor some hot water in a plastic cup, filled with dried plastic looking noodles, throw some oddly colored herbs on them and you've got a tasty snack. Not exactly haute cuisine, but tasty, nothing more, kind of like Costello's new album, "Momofuku". The record comes as a pleasant surprise since Costello voiced his disgust with the industry not so long ago. The angry young man had become the grumpy old geezer, albeit a clever one at that. Though he threatened to hang up his R&R shoes, he's back with the Imposters.

In recent years Costello R&R output was meager to say the least. Elvis proved to hold quite a few more clever tricks up his sleeve that distracted him from making R&R. The results varied from interesting, like his collaboration with the Dutch Metropole Orkest on "My Flame Burns Blue", to close to brilliant on his last album with Allen Toussaint, "The River in Reverse". The few R&R albums he did release often seemed forced and too thought through, making me wonder if Costello still had it in him. "Momofuku" is a nice step in the right direction. Because of the way the record came about it has an infectious loose feel to it. On the stand out tracks you'd wish that Costello would record this way more often. But not all is good. For most part of the album it sounds like Costello these days is simply too clever for R&R. The album is filled with stylistic exercises that sound like they would have been best saved for maybe another collaboration with Burt Bacharach. While tracks like "American Gangster" are edgy little rockers and a return to form, jazzy Beatlesque exercises like "Mister Feathers" seem under developed. But I guess in the end the album lives up to its title. "Momofuku" is a nice snack, something to hold you over till dinner time.

"American Gangster Time"

MP3 File

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