by Tim Den
The historical importance placed upon Elvis Costello and The Attractions‘ first three/four albums – although deserved and just – have shouldered the band’s later-but-just-as-worthy albums such as ’81’s Trust unfairly into relative obscurity. Sure, Get Happy!! was a tough act to follow, but as Trust‘s crisp pop perfection illustrates, the band was hardly running out of gas (it would be another two albums for that).
Utilizing a self-described “dry” production sound, Trust features Costello’s vocals and drummer Pete Best’s rhythms prominently, rendering pictures of self-hatred and, uh, more self-hatred (titles: “You’ll Never be a Man,” “Shot With His Own Gun,” “From a Whisper to a Scream”) with voluptuous hooks and succinct backbeats. Whether it’s the stiff bounce of opener “Clubland” or the strut of “Fish ‘n’ Chip Paper,” the melodies come hard and plenty, sounding as clear as day and impossible to resist. Just about every song here has a place in the hearts of diehard fans: The bittersweet resignation of “Watch Your Step,” the pseudo-country twang of “Different Finger” (the band would make an entire country & western cover album, Almost Blue, immediately after the release of Trust), the semi-political “Big Sister’s Clothes”… all confident vocal lines and musical arrangements, just as – if not more – than any of the band’s work up until this point.
Which is why Trust remains a cult favorite, if not a historical landmark, for the band. Though they would attempt total poppiness one more time on the overly-commericial Punch the Clock, it is here that Elvis & the gang nail the balance between pop artistry and accessibility. Reissued, as always, with plenty of b-sides, outtakes, demoes, and other goodies, Trust is essential to the collection.
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