Elvis Costello & The Roots
Wise Up Ghost
Another dubious Elvis Costello genre exercise? Actually, this collab is something sturdier and more interesting: a pained set about decaying culture long on verbose vitriol and (obviously) wicked grooves – think a dyspeptic What's Going On or a soul-powered Armed Forces. There's stealth hip-hop science: Songs slice up beats and flip deep-catalog Costello ("Pills & Soap" on the neck-snapping "Stick Out Your Tongue," "Satellite" on the waltz-time "Tripwire"). But the best bits, like "Cinco Minutos Con Vos," a slithering duet with fiery Mexicali fusionist La Marisoul, dodge pigeonholes like Questlove dodges the one. It's the sound of a savant songsmith trying to impress the world's best backing band.