• Record Label: Capitol
  • Release Date: Jan 14, 2022

Universal acclaim - based on 15 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 15
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 15
  3. Negative: 0 out of 15
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  1. Jan 12, 2022
    Sublimely crafted, incredibly well-played, there are all the reference points, yet it never sounds like a composite of old glories. The intelligence, urgency and immediacy of his 32nd album are a most welcome surprise.
  2. 90
    While everything here echoes its maker's past, it all sounds new. ... The Boy Named If (And Other Children's Stories) is excellent. [Feb 2022, p.78]
  3. Jan 24, 2022
    Even when the tempo drops, the quality doesn’t, the rich imagery of Trick Out the Truth being a case in point. Effortlessly classy.
  4. Jan 19, 2022
    The Imposters have never sounded better on record -- and they've never sounded more like the Attractions, either, which isn't entirely a coincidence -- and that helps give The Boy Named If its infectious kick: it may feel like an old-fashioned Elvis Costello album, but it sounds entirely fresh.
  5. 80
    No excuse is necessary. Costello is right back where he belongs and the rewards are that much better as a result.
  6. Uncut
    Jan 14, 2022
    The Boy Named if is a thunderous, furious reconnection with the more splenetic chapters of his catalogue - though if there's a difference between this and Blood 7 chocolate or This Year's Model, it's that Costello here sounds like he's thoroughly enjoying himself. [Mar 2022, p.26]
  7. Jan 14, 2022
    None of this will come as any surprise to seasoned Costello watchers – indeed, it could be argued he’s been on a creative purple patch since 2018’s Look Now. For those who thought that age may have dimmed the fire that’s always been Costello’s trademark, A Boy Named If is proof positive that the opposite is true.
  8. Jan 13, 2022
    While the lyrics are convoluted, the music simply charges ahead. Like so many pandemic albums, “The Boy Named If” was pieced together remotely. ... Yet the Imposters sound gleefully, brutally unified, every bit as bristling as the Attractions on “This Year’s Model” or the Imposters on “When I Was Cruel” in 2002.
  9. Mojo
    Jan 12, 2022
    The most energised performance Costello has committed to record in a long time and - despite his protestations that The Imposters are an entirely different band - his most classic Attractions-like album since 1994's Brutal Youth. [Feb 2022, p.83]
  10. Jan 12, 2022
    The tail-end of The Boy Named If finds Costello suddenly back in crooner mode with the soft-shoe swing of “Trick Out the Truth” and the moonstruck “Mr. Crescent.” Both tracks are quietly exquisite and provide a comedown from the adrenaline-fueled highs of the album’s first half. They underscore the ways in which The Boy Named If is as complete and often thrilling as anything Costello has recorded in years.
  11. Jan 12, 2022
    With The Boy Named If, Costello and The Imposters show they are still capable of kicking each other under the table at the restaurant, showing their fangs to the manager when they’ve been told to leave.
  12. Jan 19, 2022
    Costello fans will find many delights in The Boy Named If. For one, his 32nd studio album sounds smashing. Sebastian Krys’ mix stresses the textures of acoustic instruments without walloping listeners; Costello’s guitar, as restless as a child at a symphony even on solid albums like When I Was Cruel and Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, burrows right between Faragher’s bass and Nieve’s keyboards, enunciating hook after hook.
  13. Jan 13, 2022
    “What If I Can’t Give You Anything But Love?” is pleasing enough, yet undeniably cliché in terms of both its music and its central topic. Those issues notwithstanding, The Boy Named If is a wonderful record and a testament to Costello’s enduring originality and talent.
  14. Jan 19, 2022
    All in all, this is yet another strong album in a career full of them and while he doesn’t reinvent the wheel or break much new ground here, any chance to hear the master play the style he’s so good at is not to be missed.
  15. Jan 14, 2022
    The Boy Named If, has a lot in common with Hey Clockface, whether it be the four noticeably weaker tracks or the similarly bloated 52-minute runtime. ... What does work about The Boy Named If, like any other Costello album, is the songwriting. ... When The Boy Named If hits, and it mostly does, it gives us a Costello Halloween song and yet another track about a waitress who looks like an actress, two things that are not easy to pull off. Costello is still an artist to watch.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Negative: 1 out of 13
  1. Jan 18, 2022
    This is a cracking album, full of melodic invention, great hooks, biting lyrics, fine musicianship and caustic wit. As always with Costello,This is a cracking album, full of melodic invention, great hooks, biting lyrics, fine musicianship and caustic wit. As always with Costello, there is compassion and humanity to be found, but not easily or without the trials and tribulations of life’s many complexities. Or more simply put, 12 great pop songs delivered by people who know what they are doing. Full Review »
  2. Jan 17, 2022
    A work of genius. I suppose some my call
    It a “return to form”. Personally I think he’s been on red hot fork for 45 years so what do I know?
  3. Mar 7, 2022
    I was trying to find a reason not to give this a 10, but I couldn't think of any considerable criticism to deny it. Given the range of qualityI was trying to find a reason not to give this a 10, but I couldn't think of any considerable criticism to deny it. Given the range of quality over the past 20 years, I told myself not to expect Blood & Chocolate, and now I think it may be his best since. The Attractions '94 reunion with Brutal Youth was indeed exciting. I really like that one but I sometimes get the feeling he was was trying a little too hard to get that sound and energy back. Great rock songs on When I Was Cruel and Momofuku, but this one is a consistent play through for me. Aside from two mellow, well placed songs, it has an ambitious, driving pace. You get the feeling something clicked in Elvis' head and a torrent of inspiration flowed effortlessly. Like others have noted, there's a lot of familiarity but it sounds new, unique and invigorating. Band seems damn happy to be making a fun, youthful, pop rock album. Solid production sounds terrific sitting dead center. Second and third time around I was waiting to realize the ways I overreacted and instead enjoyed it more. These vibrant, catchy moments come out of nowhere and I genuinely anticipate them like a when I was a teenager. The final song, Mr. Crescent, is so beautiful. Hope you agree and enjoy. Full Review »