Monday, July 25, 2005
"Pump It Up"
Here's a song that grabs you and refuses to let go. You're kept on the balls of your feet, doing little pogo jumps through the verse as you wait for the relief of the slam-dunk chorus. It's edgy, nervous, speed-fuelled, in-your-face stuff, the acceptable face of punk. Elvis Costello always stood slightly apart from the whole new wave thing, always just that bit more thoughtful, his songwriting just that bit more complete. And this song is as good an example of how far beyond his contemporaries he was: "She’s been a bad girl/She’s like a chemical/Though you try to stop it/She’s like a narcotic/You wanna torture her/You wanna talk to her/All the things you bought for her/Putting up your temp’rature." His references were always more erudite than the rest of the new wave, and it's no surprise that his career has morphed from songs like "Watching the Detectives" to covering - beautifully, mind - Charles Aznavour's "She" and working with the Brodsky Quartet among others. But for a while, he was the clever epicenter of the furious squall that was punk and new wave.