With over two dozen studio collections — and roughly fifty years as a professional musician — under his belt, English power-pop/pub rock songsmith Elvis Costello has nothing left to prove. And yet, he’s been putting out superb records since 1977’s My Aim is True. In fact, 2020’s Hey Clockface was one of his most multifarious and consistent efforts in several years.
Fortunately, follow-up The Boy Named If (out Friday, January 14th) is another winning entry in his repertoire. Admittedly, it’s not quite as exceptional or significant as its immediate predecessor, but it nonetheless proves that Costello (and The Imposters) are still highly capable of dishing out charmingly eccentric, poignant, and catchy compositions like no one else.
According to Costello, the album’s full title is The Boy Named If (And Other Children’s Stories). He explained in a statement: “‘IF,’ is a nickname for your imaginary friend; your secret self, the one who knows everything you deny, the one you blame for the shattered crockery and the hearts you break, even your own…”
Once again, he enlisted Sebastian Krys as co-producer. In contrast to the miscellaneous, globe-spanning cast of musicians who appeared on Hey Clockface, though, The Boy Named If naturally features the same line-up as 2018’s Look Now (Costello, keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist Davey Faragher, and drummer Pete Thomas). Unsurprisingly, each one of them stands out as an essential part of the recipe, and it’s clear that the chemistry between them is as strong as ever.