Perfection – Something every band and artist alike tries to capture. It could be argued that a record should not strive for perfection and that it is the mistakes or the shortcomings of the record that give a record character. Guy Garvey, lyricist, self professed poet and front man of Manchester band Elbow has built a creation so close to perfection it makes the listener dizzy.
Elbow’s last album The Seldom Seen Kid was a solid effort, although leaving me as a listener with one qualm: lyrically the album bordered on pretentious. Something that Guy Garvey would resent, however it cannot be ignored that the lyrical content with affluent themes almost alienated the listener. Garvey has left behind the riddles of the band’s previous record and written an album that is able to be universally understood, and something that his audience can relate to.
The album opens with gentle toe tapper ‘The Birds’ which simply reminded me of a quote from fellow everyday poet, Mike Skinner “this ain’t a track, it’s a movement.” The ‘movement’ begins with a beat that fans and Elbow virgins can rock back and forth to, stamp their feet to, and bang their heads to, with a guitar sound that reminds one of early Elbow or a later Kasabian. All this eerie yet celebratory sound descends into faux techno; the track is prompted into this change by the repetition of a motif heard in the last album’s ‘Grounds for Divorce’ except this time it is played on the bass, coincidence or homage to a late friend? You decide.
‘Lippy Kids’ with its almost pedalled piano/keys and simple bass build a perfect platform for Garvey’s melodic vocal to develop and sit on. His vocal line reflects his lyric “though I never perfected that simian stroll” the onomatopoeic sense of his vocals beg to differ, it seems he has perfected his walk and his talk in this track. There is something childish to the lyrics, childish or nostalgic, speaking of “Golden days” and “stealing booze” the simplicity of the words make it my favourite and an obvious single off the album.
All in all, the album contains many potential British anthems and festival hits, such as ‘With Love’ and ‘Open Arms’. The greatest thing about this album is the fact that as musicians the band has the full potential to perform this album live. As opposed to the orchestral content of the last album, we have been reminded that Elbow are still a five-piece band.
From Owen Penrice.