When I Was Cruel - Elvis Costello
When I Was Cruel Image
Metascore
76

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

User Score
9.3

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