Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Back in 2001 Elbow were shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize for their debut album Asleep in the Back* and for my money it has all been up since then, although I suspect sales haven't followed accordingly.
They are a cult name in New Zealand (mid-sized cult however) and a band that is too easy to let slip past you. But they are musically unconstrained (Led Zepp who went from heavy to Anglofolk and world music are a good reference point, if not in a purely musical sense) and their sense of dynamics wil keep you on your toes.
They also have in singer Guy Garvey one of the smartest lyricists around. How's this for the first lines on the opener which typically slews in an unexpected direction: "How dare the premier ignore my invitations. He'll have to go. So too the bunch he luncheons with. It's second on my list of things to to do. At the top is stopping by your place of work and acting like I haven't dreamed of you and I and marriage in an orange grove".
Doesn't that capture something of the contemporary condition for many people? Love it.
From the spare to the sublime, the hushed to a holy racket this is a terrific album and commands repeat plays just to get every subtle change, musical shift, lyrical twist and so on.
Richard Hawley (an Elsewhere favourite) guests on one track, there are string sections and their own in-house "choir" and there is some ear-crunching rock just to keep everybody honest.
It's almost prog-rock (without the self-indulgence).
Time for you to join the mid-sized cult, I think.
In September 2008 Elbow won the Mercury Prize for this album.