Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys! (Fiction)

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by Suzy Norman

If strenuous records are anathema to your ears, you might not go in for Elbow singles.

But, with this in mind, you may decide this is why Build A Rocket Boys! works. Elbow are a band at the top of their game but this album is not about cynical, grandiose thinking and meaty chart fodder. Unlike 2008’s comparatively noisy The Seldom Seen Kid, you’ll find softer layers here. Sure, there’s ambition but it’s deftly achieved. Luckily they’re not afraid to make an album that whispers.

‘Lippy Kids’ is searing, swirling and harmonious, a song as humble as it is prepossessing. Reassuring, is their determination to put the effort in, now as much as ever, and Guy Garvey knows his music. A staid radio presenter – lacking the lackadaisical panache and relaxed wit of fellow celebrity DJ, Jarvis Cocker – his slot on BBC 6 Music can, notwithstanding, be an education.

“I miss your stupid face,” he crows in ‘The Night Will Always Win’. In keeping with Dylan’s ‘Idiot Wind’ from Blood On The Tracks, the memory of times past is still raw and there’s a welcome down-to-earth candour we can now expect from them.

‘Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl’ rocks us along in its carriage, but simpers out to a shadowy conclusion. Fitting in with the smooth ride of the album, this ending is the more effective for it.

The steel band in ‘With Love’ is an interesting textural inclusion, but for a few seconds during the high notes there’s a danger of Garvey sounding like Chris Martin. More through accident than design, it momentarily distracts.

There’s so much more to Elbow than their creeping, bold singles and the subtle, almost holy delicateness of most tracks, makes this quite brilliant.


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