Elvis Costello
My Aim Is True


5.0
classic

Review

by Kyle Ellison USER (9 Reviews)
February 4th, 2007 | 9 replies | 2,334 views


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Costello presents exactly what a pop album should be; instantly accessible, clever and with moments that reverberate for days on end.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

A debut album is a once in a career opportunity. Okay so admittedly that’s fairly obvious, but what I mean is an artist never has another chance of reclaiming the mindset in which their first album was written. Most good debuts are raw, emotional and unaffected pieces of work, with no room for the complacency or arrogance which comes with celebrity or success. Artists put their heart and soul into these albums and the result is often an accurate depiction of their youth or the frame of mind in which it was approached. Whilst as an artist matures he might look back at his work and smile at how rough and incomplete it sounds, he shouldn't regret it, for the debut album is a snapshot of time and a staple of promise or room for improvement.

Elvis Costello's debut does all these things but with one major difference. Whilst My Aim is True certainly sounds raw, emotional and unaffected, it never sounds uncompleted or rough round the edges. For a 23 year old man, Costello produced a body of work which shows the experience and maturity of somebody who’d been in the business for a lifetime. He writes bitter tales of love and short songs with all the spirit of a punk rocker; however he displays a rare wit and intelligence uncommon in a young man. Not only does Costello write with an amazing astuteness, but also with a competence in an eclectic range of styles. This album sees him stray into Punk, Reggae, traditional Rock and Roll, country and even soul, yet is constantly glued together with a craft for pop music which makes the album so easy to listen to. Whilst the album contains all the grit and toughness of a debut, it’s also impeccably refined and perfectly rounded.

The album begins abruptly with opener "Welcome to the Working Week"; the tracks sharp chord progressions are complimented with classic pop backing vocals, as Costello’s opening line summarises his talent for lyricism;
“Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired”
Always the master of subtlety he somehow manages to euphemise masturbation with a certain element of style, before proceeding to write a near-perfect rock and roll song in under a minute and a half. With not a single track over 4 minutes this concise writing style is dominant throughout, but despite being short and snappy the songs never feel brief, only succinct and to the point.

Whilst Costello's sardonic tone seems to pervade My Aim is True, highlight track "Alison" is quite different as it reveals a more melodic and soulful side of the album. The sort of track which alone can justify the purchase of an entire CD, Costello's passion shines through as he cries "Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking" before hinting at murder with a frightening sincerity. Whilst the focus of the track is for the most part the mental tussle expressed through the lyrics, the track is also laced with delightful lead guitar noodles which add to the sense of calm which bleeds through the instrumentation.

Whilst "Alison" is clearly the albums centrepiece it does little to summarise the vibe of the CD as a whole; The albums overall feel is perhaps epitomised by it's rock and roll tracks. "Miracle Man", "Pay it Back" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" are all wrapped in pop hooks which could make even Johnny Borell question his arrogance, as the oh so memorable chorus' seem to resonate for days on end. However, whilst these tracks are catchy they are by no means disposable, as the infectious backing tracks are sugar-coated with lines like "I said I'm so happy I could die/ She said 'drop dead' and left with another guy". It's amazing how a line so miserable and self-deprecating, could belong to perhaps the most upbeat sounding and danceable track on the album, only serving to add humour and poignancy to the songs message.

My Aim is True, then, is amongst the finest and most polished debuts ever put to record. Costello delivers a masterclass in songwriting, and shows that it is indeed songs which make an album and not any fancy tricks in the studio. Whilst the production job serves its purpose at presenting the records rough edges, each track has its own identity which is treated with exactly the same time and care. Given the broad range of styles it refers to, this album must have a track for everyone, and in fact very few which have any outwardly dislikeable quality. Lyrically stunning and never forced, this truly is a pop gem which should be thrust upon all youngsters as a lesson in songwriting.....Classic.

5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Kyle
February 4th 2007



667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I struggled like crazy with this review because it's not the sort of album I normally write about, but it's not the worst thing i've ever done.

rogerebert
February 4th 2007



48 Comments


Good review.

Kaleid
February 4th 2007



710 Comments


Good the way you set yourself challenges then :thumb:
My reviews always seem to be a bit too long. You got it just about right.
Not a massive fan really, but I agree with you on 'Alison'.

Iai
Emeritus
February 4th 2007



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I've said it before, I'll say it again - if "Alison" isn't the best song ever written, it's top 5 at the very least.

Good review man.

The Jungler
February 4th 2007



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool that you really got into this.
Nice review, I'm not a huge Costello fan. This is the only CD by him I've ever listened to in full, though I've been thinking about finding a second.

Zebra
Moderator
February 4th 2007



2647 Comments


I could never get into this guy. I'll admit that it's some really catchy stuff but I don't hear anything amazing.
Fantastic review.

Sepstrup
February 5th 2007



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review. I thought the introduction could have been a bit more concise, but you did a good job.

This album is amazing. Every song is fantastic.This Message Edited On 02.05.07

morrissey
Moderator
February 12th 2007



1688 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Not sure how I missed this review, great stuff Kyle.

This is quite the album. Early Costello was always tops. I still can't determine a favourite record but "Alison" is easily the best song he's written. And that's saying something.

edit: and props on being the only one beesides me to give this a 5This Message Edited On 02.12.07

Sepstrup
February 12th 2007



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It really deserves a 5. I'm only giving it 4,5 because I'm an asshole.



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