Punch the Clock is the first Elvis Costello album that feels like a step back. As a followup to Imperial Bedroom, this collection of mostly lightweight pop songs was rather anticlimactic.
Most confounding is the production, polished and packaged, complete with girl-group backing vocals. Whether this was Costello’s direction or a record label suggestion, I don’t know, but it feels wrong.
That said, the album does contain some great songwriting. ‘Shipbuilding’ is one of Elvis’ most gorgeous ballads, ‘Pills and Soap’ is an offbeat trippy treat and hit single ‘Everyday I Write the Book’ is an unabashed delight that benefits from the glossy production.