The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together. All rights reserved. PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.
Literary Scholar Andrew H. After releasing and touring the intense This Year's Model , Elvis Costello quickly returned to the studio with the Attractions to record his third album, Armed Forces. In contrast to the stripped-down pop and rock of his first two albums, Armed Forces boasted a detailed and textured pop production, but it was hardly lavish.
However, the more spacious arrangements -- complete with ringing pianos, echoing reverb, layered guitars, and harmonies -- accent Costello 's melodies, making the record more accessible than his first two albums. Perversely, while the sound of Costello 's music was becoming more open and welcoming, his songs became more insular and paranoid, even though he cloaked his emotions well. Many of the songs on Armed Forces use politics as a metaphor for personal relationships, particularly fascism, which explains its working title, Emotional Fascism.
Occasionally, the lyrics are forced, but the music never is -- the album demonstrates the depth of Costello 's compositional talents and how he can move from the hook-laden pop of "Accidents Will Happen" to the paranoid "Goon Squad" with ease. Some of the songs, like the light reggae of "Two Little Hitlers" and the impassioned "Party Girl," build on his strengths, while others like the layered "Oliver's Army" take Costello into new territories.
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Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file. Download as PDF Printable version. Radar , Columbia US. This Year's Model Armed Forces Get Happy!! The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Canadian Albums Chart . Of course, even if the production on Armed Forces often serves to conceal, rather than reveal the nuances of Costello's songwriting and The Attractions' always impeccable playing, the songwriting can hardly be argued with.
In the end, the greatest strength of Armed Forces may be the same thing that makes it less viscerally powerful than Costello's two prior records-- its songs absolutely demand to be appreciated for their craftsmanship. In many ways, Armed Forces can be seen as the point at which Costello dropped the role of angry young upstart, and became more comfortable with his personification as a songwriter. And considering that he has since remained largely true to this sound, it can be seen not only as the consummation of all he had worked toward, but a window to what he would later accomplish.Compilation of live versions of songs from the album Armed Forces (based on the original US LP release). Tracks. Accidents Will Happen - , Heatwave Festival, Mosport Park, Toronto, Canada Senior Service - , Guildhall, Portsmouth, England Oliver's Army - , Hope and Anchor, London, England Big Boys - , Grace Hall, Lehigh College, .