Album: Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Momofuku, (Mercury)
Just add hot water and stir...
Sunday 04 May 2008
Let's get the trivia out of the way first: Momofuku Ando is the recently deceased inventor of the cup noodle. In naming this record after him, Costello wants us to know that the album was made in a week, and that it is an easy, breezy, instant and, perhaps, disposable affair.
He does himself a disservice. Because what 'Momofuku' demonstrates is that Costello is happiest when he is creating literate and snappy pop with added MSG (mostly spontaneous glee). Made with the aid of a cool-kid bunch of Californians (Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, her beau Johnathan Rice, drummer Pete Thomas's daughter Tennessee), 'Momofuku' is the sound of Costello in satisfied (rather than self-satisfied) mode.
It is a cavalcade of clever songs that recall any classic Costello you care to mention. It is also an intensely personal and honest record. ("It's not very far/From tears to mirth/There are not many moments/That will capture your breath" he advises a newlywed on "Harry Worth".) After all those starchy collaborations with the Bacharachs, Brodskys and von Otters, the Costello we knew and loved is finally reborn by the simple act of making music for fun rather than favour. There's a moral in that for all of us.
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