"The Other Side of Summer" is Elvis Costello at his bitingly cynical best. The song opens with an assertion that "despite the contradiction and confusion...there's malice and there's magic in every season." Costello then defends his thesis by juxtaposing the seamy underside of modern life in the summer ("the casual killers, the military curfew, the cardboard city, an unwanted birthday") with a sunny tune that deliberately apes the season's most zealous advocates, the Beach Boys. For good measure, he pauses along the way to take potshots at John Lennon and Pink Floyd: "Was it a millionaire who said, 'Imagine no possessions'? A poor little schoolboy who said, 'We don't need no lessons'?" It is a gloriously wordy pop masterpiece. The single also includes "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4," one of the more accessible tracks from 1991's Mighty Like a Rose. But the real point of interest for Costello diehards is his previously unreleased cover of Brinsley Schwarz's catchy "The Ugly Things." Less devoted Costello fans may consider buying the single as an economical alternative to the patchy and unsatisfying album.
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AllMusic Review by Evan Cater