One of the founding fathers of new wave punk and a Philadelphia hip-hop band? Dig a little deeper into the respective histories of Elvis Costello and the Roots, though, and you'll understand why this record works. Costello has always dabbled in other genres, and drummer ?uestlove is a music nerd to the core who knows when to rein in his band and when to play to others' strengths.
There are some missteps - the ballad Tripwire feels out of place in the general uptempo pace, and in (She Might Be A) Grenade, Costello lazily compares a girl to an atomic bomb (didn't Green Day already do this?) - but when the album works, the band and the singer/songwriter sound more invigorated than they have in years. Refuse To Be Saved is straight-up funk, and Wake Me Up is an urgent call to arms.
It would have been interesting to hear Black Thought's dexterous rhymes on some songs here, but thankfully Costello doesn't rap either.
Top track: Refuse To Be Saved