I’ve never really listened to Elbow before, but having heard the lead single off their new full player The Seldom Seen Kid I was genuinely impressed. Grounds for Divorce, with it’s bottle banging, anthemic chorus and vocalist Guy Garvey’s darkly slick sense of humor as he talks about the virtues of the divorce. This wasn’t the Elbow I had heard about in the past, and it seemed like they’d changed pitches and started playing a completely different sport whatsoever.
So, I picked the album up hoping for some more of this gloomy swagger that had burst out onto the likes of MTV. Opening track Starlings didn’t quite give me what I was hoping for, with a collection of airy ahh’s and plinky plonky pianos that are suddenly torn apart by a regal blare of trumpets. Perhaps the band are trying to announce some kind of royal return? The song remains very understated, with Garvey’s husky voice taking center stage.
One thing that Elbow can be commended on with their fourth release is the variation in instrumentation and sound they play about with. Clearly having the time and freedom to record in their own studio space (the aptly named Elbow Rooms) has given them the confidence to play about with different instruments and dynamics. Furthermore it makes a change to hear a chart album that isn’t one constant volume of attention grabbing noise. There are quiet parts, such as the myriad journey taken through the end of The Bones of You which sounds sparse, but remains quite filling, sort of like fairy cakes.
This is the band’s fourth release, following Leaders of the Free World.
Unfortunately for me, the rest of the album couldn’t quite match the sheer enjoyment in their lead single. For the most part it’s soft and full of ballads that just aren’t as fun as the reckless attitude of Grounds for Divorce. In this respect, the album’s twelve tracks (including the secret track, which despite being listed on the back of the album wouldn’t show up in my media player, which I categorically hate) have a tendency to drag on a little bit, and to be honest it’s all a bit wishy washy.
However, on the plus side the experiments with guitar sounds and string arrangements prove interesting, and I have to admit I find Garvey’s singing voice absolutely spot on perfect. It’s a shame the band didn’t explore their rockier nature as I feel they could have a lot more success if they followed it through, but at the end of the day this isn’t a terrible album and certainly worth a listen if you enjoy the mellower side of the indie rush.