You never know what to expect with Costello. After the calorie-laden lushness of North, Costello returns to glorious, rough-edged form.

The Imposters are basically The Attractions without Bruce Thomas, replaced by Davey Farragher following irreconcilable differences. Costello sings like he used to, using that mouth-to-microphone intimacy of old, making the songs immediate and urgent.

If the cacophonous first track Button My Lip, in which buckling guitars take on an amplifier and win, resonates with Blood And Chocolate era Costello, other tracks suggest the Americana of King Of America.

Country Darkness mournfully traps itself inside your skull, while There's A Story In Your Voice is a wonderfully bonkers outing with Lucinda Williams, who sings with demented abandon. If some songs distort, others are heartbreakingly tender, especially the closing duet with Emmylou Harris, The Scarlet Tide. Welcome back, Elvis.

Updated: 08:40 Thursday, September 30, 2004