Elbow ElbowBuild A Rocket Boys!
When a band like Elbow, with such a long, serious and coherent career, receives the Mercury Prize for “ The Seldom Seen Kid”, and, in general, great reviews all around, it’s a bit scary to see which way they’ll go next. We’ve seen it with other bands, Coldplay, who have turned to the effective and cheap exit of stadium epic. However, Guy Garvey’s boys remained true to their principles and haven’t changed their usual serene and solemn sound. “ Build A Rocket Boys!” is one of the most precious and elegant records of the year so far; possibly, the British answer to The National’s “ High Violet”.
Eleven exalted pop gems form this album. As is usually the case with the band, the first references that come to mind are Peter Gabriel and Talk Talk. Remember the impressive piece the former Genesis member made for “ Wall-E”? Well, that’s the direction of this record. It opens with “ The Birds”, an eight-minute exaltation to nature. But there’s also room for reflection on vicissitudes of the human being; “ Lippy Kids” doesn’t only serve as a story about adolescent anxiety but also as an allegation of youth. And they also don’t forget about their friends at the end, so in line with the rest of the album. Featuring lyrics Guy Garvey wrote, not without problems. In fact, he went to the studio of aforementioned Peter Gabriel several times to share ideas with him. The piece of the puzzle fit.
There’s something for everyone. “ The Night Will Always Win” is a dreamy ballad that features little more that Garvey’s voice and a piano, creating an atmosphere like only Elbow can. Less is more. “ Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl” is an approach to folk with a subtle touch of electronica. And if there’s one piece that surprises more than any other, it’s “ High Ideals”, on which the band take on an incredible rhythm.
Elbow’s music is warm, it wraps you up and takes your hand in your day-to-day life. There are no stridencies, everything sounds the way it should. The Manchester combo hardly raise their voice, at most on “ Neat Little Rows” and “ Open Arms”, the songs that could satisfy those who expected a more commercial effort like their most famous track, “ One Day Like This” the most, the only concessions to licentiousness, if you can call it that, on the album. Garvey and company won’t make you dance, jump or throw your arms in the air like on the record sleeve, but with the solid “Build A Rocket Boys!” they will keep pleasing their legion of fans, which, at the end of the day, is what really matters.
Álvaro García Montoliu