A brilliant, accomplished debut, Look Sharp!
established Joe Jackson
as part of that camp of angry, intelligent young new wavers (i.e., Elvis Costello
, Graham Parker
) who approached pop music with the sardonic attitude and tense, aggressive energy of punk. Not as indebted to pub rock as Parker
, and much more lyrically straightforward than the latter, Jackson
delivers a set of bristling, insanely catchy pop songs that seethe with energy and frustration. Several deal with the lack of thoughtful reflection in everyday life ("Sunday Papers," "Got the Time"), but many more concern the injuries and follies of romance. In the caustic yet charming witticisms of songs like the hit "Is She Really Going Out With Him?," "Happy Loving Couples," "Fools in Love," and "Pretty Girls," Jackson
presents himself on the one hand as a man of integrity seeking genuine depth in love (and elsewhere), but leavens his stance with a wry, self-effacing humor, revealing his own vulnerability to loneliness and to purely physical attraction. Look Sharp!
is the sound of a young man searching for substance in a superficial world -- and it also happens to rock like hell.