Moods for Moderns


There should be a specific category for my favorite albums by artists I’m actually not that into. Either because it’s part of a movement I’m just generally very fond of, like first wave New Wave and post punk, or it recalls a moment in my life when just the right tape fell into my hands. Or sometimes an otherwise unexciting artist will just make a perfect album. Like Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions. That album is part of the soundtrack of my life, but I don’t care about any other thing Elvis Costello ever did. Granted some of his other early records were also pretty good, and I have to respect his more recent work (though I don’t find it very interesting.) He (and Joe Jackson, in a very similar career arc) burst out in the late seventies playing the part of the angry nerd, providing a brainy-but-still-edgy alternative to the clodhoppers of punk. Now he’s matured into a pudgy, well-respected artist who makes intelligent, personal, well-crafted but thoroughly dull music aimed squarely at the NPR set.  He’s one of the leading lights of middle-aged, middlebrow, mid-liberal intelligentsia. He hasn’t been edgy in decades, but he’s never made a fool of himself either. You can’t hold it against him, and there’s nothing to make fun of.

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