When I Was Cruel - Elvis Costello
When I Was Cruel Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 20 Ratings

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  • Summary: Costello's first album of original material in six years is a return to his new wave/punk/rock roots, with several members of The Attractions (Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas) in tow.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Bristling with an electric current that seemingly short-circuited years ago, ''When I Was Cruel'' is the best work Costello has produced since ''Blood & Chocolate'' back in the mid-'80s.
  2. The Costello formula takes over: minimalist but experimental instrumentation, eternally durable vocals, and literate punk-wave bittersweetening.
  3. An album of taut, bilious rock that -- propelled, not coincidentally, by original Attractions members Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas -- has all the teetering-on-unhinged feel of Costello's very best work.
  4. It’s a confectionary delight, from start to finish: sometimes intelligent, sometimes emotional, always likeable.
  5. Anyone expecting When I Was Cruel to be This Year's Model may be disappointed, but Elvis Costello has worn so many hats over the years that it would have been a misstep for him to try to go back.
  6. Elvis makes you suffer for the good stuff with leaden conceits, overwrought hysterics, a useless reprise. And then he makes it all up to yoo-oo-oou.
  7. It's no classic, but there are reassuringly unhealthy signs of life.

See all 25 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 15
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 15
  3. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. RebeccaM.
    May 24, 2002
    Smart lyrics, deep meaning, personal, subtle and raucous.
  2. JabezT.
    Sep 22, 2007
    An excellent album by one of the true masters of modern music. Because he is so prolific, Elvis has released a lot of records that are rehashes or even steps backwards. Not this one. It represents another amazing stage in the career of a major artist. Expand
  3. Veronica
    Jun 10, 2002
    definitely in the same league as "Get Happy!" thank you! thank you!
  4. DonH
    Apr 25, 2003
    good really good
  5. Rita
    Mar 21, 2005
    a masterpiece, no doubt one of the best albums ever, just brilliant, 100 out of 10
  6. MarkR
    Jul 31, 2002
    He is still an amazing lyricist, and most of these songs are exceptional. However, the ones that are not exceptional are barely listenable...15 Petals is the first one that comes to mind in this category. Expand
  7. StephenM.
    Nov 8, 2002
    I own to many differant versions of this album, there is no hope for a fan.

See all 15 User Reviews