When the highs are high and so are the lows you know you're listening to something special. Elbows highs are as lofty as any one else's this year, perhaps PJ Harvey wrote stronger material, perhaps Wild Beasts recorded the best song this year, but no-one comes close to the warm thoughtfulness that emanates from our metaphorical pillow, Guy Garvey; `Lippy Kids' for instance is almost choking in its beauty.
The aforementioned `high lows' are the masses pandering 'Open Arms' with its rather forced crescendo, and the odd Caribbean, complete with choir, sound of 'With Love'. The former is particularly out of place sandwiched between the simple, stripped back, 'The River' and 'The Birds (Reprise)' but as has already been suggested these songs are still strong, they are still quality pieces of music and deserve your attention. Perhaps one critique that could be levelled at Elbow is their lack of guile, their apparent desire to retain this rather un-ambitious equilibrium, this would perhaps seem a harsh observation considering their ability to move the listener but it is something worth mentioning.