ALBUM REVIEW: Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Released: 14.01.22








The new album from Elvis Costello and The Imposters, The Boy Named If, grinds out old band vices and sharpens new and invigorating song choices. They may have pursued the “Helsinki sound” on previous release Hey, Clockface, but the search is apparently over. The Boy Named If has none of the janky sounds or cluttered noises of their preceding album, but there are a few new bumps in the road.

Farewell, OK is a simple enough opener, albeit a dud single. Penelope Halfpenny follows suit after a quick interval with the strengths of the titular track. But after that, Costello goes from strength to strength with a tone and lyrical wit; those guitar-heavy swings and crooning lyrics are a staple of Costello and company’s style and feature well enough throughout. Spotty moments appear frequently, but happening upon a quality track is fairly frequent.

Whether it is What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, an emotive and exciting track breaking down the languishing throes of love or first single Magnificent Hurt, The Boy Named If is not without its merits. Despite the simplicity of Paint The Red Rose Blue, it has a charming catchiness to it and works well as a strange companion piece to Costello’s 1989, politically-charged track Tramp The Dirt Down. The reliance these tracks have on drummer Pete Thomas is telling, he more or less keeps Mistook Me For A Friend together, and can be heard breaking through with an almost equal importance to the lyrics.

The Boy Named If is not as venomous and proactive as previous album Hey, Clockface, but it’s still marked as a definitive release for the post-boom Costello age. The eponymous track is a creepy and twisted offering that steer the band away from the lighter tones of yesteryear, thanks to biting and accusatory lyrics which involve the listener. Overall, a varied offering from Costello and crew, which is more bark than bite.


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