Listening to this disc is like meeting an old friend and finding you're still in sync. Though Costello's solo efforts have been mostly satisfying since splitting with the Attractions in 1986, there's something reassuring about the music he makes with his band.
Brutal Youth—which picks up where the group's last album, Blood and Chocolate, left off—has the spunk of an old New Wave disc, with such power-pop ditties as "Pony St." or "My Science Fiction Twin." There's a jazzier groove in "Clown Strike" and an off-kilter, Tom Waits-like bounce to "20% Amnesia" that lend a stylish sophistication few other rock bands can match.
Costello remains the wise guy, tossing off lines like "If you're going out tonight, I won't wait up reading Das Kapital and watching Home Shopping Club" to an unfaithful love. Sarcasm. Anger. A touch of nastiness. Just like the good old days. (Warner Bros.)