on 10 May 2014
I have never been an almighty Elbow fan, having dipped into their output only occasionally. And liking to a degree, but not in a repeat listener way. On dipping into this album I found myself thinking at first that is sounded samey and how it would be unlikely to be one I’d eagerly reach for.
However, a rare thing happened; whereby after a couple of casual non committed listens during a long commute - typically because I couldn’t decide on anything else to play – I noticed the songs becoming familiar and all of a sudden I was getting drawn into the lyrics, and the real core of the melodies. It all just seems to work. The songs theme seems to work more as a whole rather than as individual entities, bringing a surprising clarity to the messages and musings.
It continued to draw me further in, no longer was I dipping in – this album had rooted itself into my psyche. The melodies meander with the occasional darkly crafted words expertly interweaved and expressed by a unique and perfect vocal. The rhythm and production simply works.
Now I am finding myself experimenting with their back catalogue to see if a similar experience might be had.
Elbow are a bit of an enigma perhaps, but they are powerful, poignant and poetic; the lyrics take on vivid personal slants – or maybe that’s just a middle aged thing.
To conclude, this is highly recommended for thoughtful persons who have a little patience to see if they can evoke a similar experience as described.
This is an excellent album.
on 14 March 2014
Although I downloaded this from Amazon on the day of release, I was determined to bide my time in terms of posting a review, as I believe good music takes its own time to seep into your consciousness and reveal its true identity. One week on, I can tell you that The Take Off And Landing Of Everything has arms. They slowly but surely wrap themselves around you, caressing at first but becoming more and more of an embrace until you are enveloped in a thing of real beauty and warmth. I absolutely love the album this week, and I fully expect to love it even more next.
As an Elbow fan of some years (I bought Cast Of Thousands on its release), I have marvelled at the consistency and fortitude of the band, who have been together in the same form for over twenty years. Their well-deserved breakthrough came with The Seldom Seen Kid, Mercury Prize winner and sublime album of huge depth and artistic merit. I would place it in my top five albums of all time, but was less enchanted with Build A Rocket Boys! (never forget the exclamation mark!). 'One Day Like This' opened huge doors for Elbow, becoming a festival favourite, played to death on TV documentaries and sports programmes and I felt at times with Build A Rocket Boys! that the band were trying just a bit too hard to find another replacement anthem, rather than following their own creative path. Despite wonderful tracks such as The Birds, Lippy Kids, The Night Will Always Win and Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl, the album lacked consistency for me and I worried that Elbow had been caught up on the conveyor belt of commercial success like so many bands before them.
The Take Off And Landing Of Everything has totally removed any fears I may have had and at times even sounds like a return to some of the electronic, rhythmic patterns found on Asleep In The Back, albeit with a maturity and confidence that only time can bring. The album's opener 'This Blue World' may come as a surprise to many Elbow fans who have come to expect a powerful, driving opener (Any Day Now, Station Approach, Starlings, The Birds). This Blue World is much more restrained, but grows on you with each listen and the chorus has a nice hook that you'll find yourself humming all day. Apart from anything else, it's impossible not to love a song that contains the line 'When all the world is sucking on its sleeve'.
Charge is more in keeping with a traditional Elbow album opener, with a great melody laden over bass, drums and organ while Guy Garvey holds it all together with the usual powerful vocal - "I am the diehard with an empty dancecard propping up a young bar, I'm pouring oil in double time upon the troubled rising tide inside of me". The strings of the Hallé Orchestra that come in halfway through the track are totally unexpected and take the track to a new level. Oh, and don't forget to try the beer, either.
Fly Boy Blue / Lunette is two songs in one. Fly Boy Blue has Guy's muted vocals over Pete Turner's bass and interludes of guitar and horns "Someone's dancing on the box, a former MP and no one's watching". The track slows down and is then picked up with a rhythmic bass line that takes us into Lunette, a beautiful song that could only have come from Elbow, that tells of the vices of life - smoking and drinking and the effects they can have on a man in the autumn of his life. Towards the end of the song, Guy focuses briefly on the less harmful things that really matter in life "But there isn't words yet for the comfort I get, from the gentle lunette at the top, of the nape, of the neck, that I wake to". It's so personal and intimate that you almost feel like a guilty voyeur listening to it, but it's beautiful, absolutely beautiful and one of the album's highlights.
New York Morning is the first single from the album and is easily the most commercial sounding song in the collection. It's by no means my favourite track, but as with all Elbow songs, there is always much to commend, not least the lyrics "And oh my giddy aunt New York can talk, it's the modern Rome and folk are nice to Yoko". Real Life (Angel) is another slow burner, but reveals itself with each listen and Honey Sun could have been lifted straight off Asleep In The Back, with Guy very close to the microphone "I know a place where angels lace the lemonade, and I cannot stay where all the broken plans were made".
My Sad Captains is yet another song that may pass you by the first couple of times you listen to it, but is undoubtedly one of the album's real highlights. A beautiful melody and Guy's haunting vocal backed by soaring trumpets "Another sunrise with my sad captains, with who I choose to lose my mind, and if it's so we only pass this way but once, what a perfect waste of time". Colour Fields has a lovely 'spacy' feel to it, with Mark Potter's jangly guitar picking out around Guy's subdued vocal "Bright girl, dead town, open mouths for miles around, I still see you keeping those dough boys guessing".
The album's title track has a slight feel of psychedelica about it and reminds me slightly of Radiohead's Let Down from OK Computer. Guy's vocal, above driving guitar, is not so much to the fore as on other tracks and the song culminates in a multi-layered chorus "In a prayer to the take off and landing of everything good". The album finishes with The Blanket Of Night, a slow-moving number with another beautiful melody as Guy laments "The danger, that life should lead us here, my angel, could I have steered us clear".
So there we have it. The latest album from one of the most creative, consistent bands around. No anthems, just a collection of beautiful, melancholy songs that reveal new dimensions each time you listen. That the album is more laid-back than its predecessors, may well be down to the fact that Guy Garvey's 10-year relationship with his partner ended during the making of it. Guy puts his heart and soul into every song he writes and you can feel the pain and despair in some of the lyrics here. But that's what creativity is really about - putting down life experiences using pen, paintbrush, or in this case, music, to reveal your inner thoughts to the world. As a consequence, there are moments of real beauty here and I'd suggest that anyone listening to the album does so with the lyric sheet (provided with the CD) in front of them, which will add another dimension to the experience.
Special mention should also go to Craig Potter, who produced and mixed the album at Blueprint Studios, in Salford. The production is absolutely spot on. Never overly-polished, but every instrument is clearly audible and I honestly don't believe that Guy's wonderful voice has ever sounded better on any recording. The voice is exactly where it should be - upfront where it can weave and soar above the instrumentation, but with the slight rasp and gravel-like quality that keeps it real.
In truth, I would have given this four and a half stars if I had the option, as there are a couple of tracks that meander very slightly for me, but I just don't have it in me to give it four. On the face of it, it's just so much better than much of the music that's churned out these days and is yet another fine, thoughtful, polished piece of work from one of the best bands around. They haven't sold out, they're still very much here, and they're still making outstanding music that will stand the test of time. Wonderful.
on 15 May 2014
Firstly - it's a grower, don't expect this album to jump out at you.
Give it time and all of a sudden you'll realise that this album is more than just a collection of singles, it's a symphony, a masterpiece and deserves to be listened to end to end rather than cut into singles. Garvey sounds sublime and the instruments all have their own space rather than just being a melee of noise.
I wasn't a huge fan of 'Build a Rocket Boys', a few gems such as 'Lippy Kids' but it just felt somehow rushed. This new album takes the journey they started with 'Build a Rocket Boys' and takes it to the next level. Elbow (I think, I'm sure they know better) have reached that point in their career where they've sold a lorry-load of singles and albums, bagged themselves some Olympic show royalties and now the demands of the record companies are at a minimum. Without having the pressure of making a catchy 4 minute single has freed them up to create something wonderful.
Thanks Elbow, love it and sure I will be listening to this for years to come - recommended to all.
Like all 5 Elbow studio albums before, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything requires full concentration. It isn't an album that will have your feet tapping at the first listen, but it is a piece of musical art that gets better every time you hear it.
Each track is a perfectly crafted piece of music, with distinctive piano, percussion and bass, and Guy Garvey's dulcet tones painting pictures with words over the top. Who else can use lyrics like "When all the world is sucking on its sleeve" and "It's the modern Rome, and folk are nice to Yoko"?
On second listening, the layers begin to make more sense, and although you might feel disappointed that there's no anthemic "One Day Like This", or even "Open Arms", you start finding yourself humming along here and there. Then hours later you realise you've listened to nothing else all day, and you're singing "Oh my giddy aunt, New York can talk".
Here is a band that ignores the clamour for "hits" and just makes great albums. Enjoy!
on 25 April 2014
Wow! If you're a long-standing Elbow fan you've probably bought this already and will be enjoying its multiple felicities. If you're new to the band probably best to start with 'Leaders of the Free World' or 'The Seldom Seen Kid'. This new album, however, is possibly their best ever overall, as 'Q' noticed in their review. Here are a few thoughts on the album: the opening song is enchanting, perfectly paced. They are certainly not in a hurry, and Guy's measured singing draws us into a calm, peaceful, slightly 'Christmassy' place. It's a lovely place to be. Next song still slow, but the tone changes. Guy becomes a bit edgier and touches on one of his favourite themes, the ups and downs of heavy drinking. This is another immersive song, with great use of a string section to build up the effect. Now the tempo picks up with song three, a mesmerising effort with some hypnotic vocals, leading into another song from the heart, also about drinking and smoking and being in love. Don't worry, Guy isn't turning into Phil Collins, although he sings with a similar sincerity when he feels like it, a trait which is rapidly turning him into a national treasure. As a lyricist his range is much wider than Phil's- I won't pursue the comparison. Next up the 'New York' song, instantly accessible winner. Now we hit the heart of the matter with 'Real Life Angel', one of Elbow's greatest ever songs. The first time I heard it I was in the car driving to work, and the emotional impact was so intense that I nearly had to pull over. I've now worked it out on the guitar and I played it at my local last week; it went down well! It's difficult to describe but it's another song that goes deep...man...The cumulative effect of this opening sequence of five songs is pretty overwhelming, and I always stop the cd after 'Real Life Angel' to have a rest. It's a cd of two distinct 'sides'. I'm still absorbed in the brilliance of this opening salvo, and haven't listened so much to the second half, so I might do an update later on. Getting to know this album takes time and in my case is an ongoing 'work in progress', but one which is worth the effort. It's great that they've made such a superb album after the less-than-great 'Build a rocket boys'. Get listening!
on 28 March 2014
I first discovered elbow after hearing Newborn from Asleep in the Back. I purchased the album on the strength of that song alone and found what I consider is one of the most beautiful and intelligent albums ever. It was nominated for a mercury to my delight, and didn't win to my surprise. Such a cracking album and my all-time favourite.
The follow up album Cast of Thousands was something of a disappointment at the time, but I have grown to love it after hearing the songs live. I think it was the prosaic "not a job" that did it in for me, a bland snow patrol effort and I was worried that they were going in that direction. However, most of the rest of the album is truly excellent.
It was about this time the guys did a brilliant skiffle version of Destiny's Child's independent women, which made me realise this was a band with great musicianship but did not take themselves too seriously. Google it if you haven't heard it. Charlie, how do yer get yer angels to get down like that?
Leaders of the Free World is elbow's lost album, which is a great shame since it is outstanding. For those of you who found elbow via One Day Like This, you should listen to this album with its uplifting sing along anthems such as Station Approach and Forget Myself. This is the album in which Guy gained his confidence with his observations "Saint Peter in satin, he's like Buddha with mace" and what is sheer poetry "I pull out the stops/And you, you pull the plug". To this day, the sublime Great Expectations remains my favorite song.
No need to talk about the next album but it was as successful artistically as it was commercially, a rare beast.
Build a rocket boys had a hard act to follow. Yes, it is formulaic and yes, it was rushed, but it is still a fine album, just not as good as it could or should have been. Still, one I return to a lot. How can you not love concepts like "cigarette senate".
So now we have the Take Off and Landing of Everything. And I have to say it is a delicate and measured work of art. Elbow have always rewarded listeners of patience and this album does not disappoint with its sardonic and wistful, often acerbic observation, with breathtaking musicianship. As a lyricist, Guy gives himself entirely, raw nerves and honesty. The opener, This Blue World is initially unsettling with a funereal organ segueing into spacey wistfulness, speaking of sorrow and regret. Charge is a typical elbow wry detailing, funny/sad and with a great hook. Fly Boy Blue/Lunette reads like Guy's diary entries, an internal dialogue or stream of consciousness, again sardonic but reeking of loss. The skiffle verses release to Kid A psyche horns, brilliant stuff. FBB drifts down to the folky Lunette for the remainder. New York Morning is more of a friendly punch (gentle shoulder charge?) to a city than a Paen... Real life (Angel) is my favourite track of the album, a mesmerising, lovely track. Watching sunrise from the mountain listening to this is magical. Honey Sun is a highly unusual track, layers of rythmic motifs, Guy being wistful and sad again (poor chap). My Sad Captains is a weirdly uplifting track; it's musically a military march (Captains?) and a bromance anthem, it's warm and fantastic. Colour fields is another rhythmic motif layering, lyrics speaking of getting away and living - build a rocket girl? The title track is next and its a soaring thumping spacey number. It has the more homogeneous sound of Asleep and while a busy track, if you listen, you are rewarded with lots of counterpoints and detail. Wonderful. Another good track to stare at vistas with. On the final track, Guy is basically channeling early Peter Gabriel with the electronica and ebb and flow.
So again an excellent effort all around. elbow have evolved into a majestic outfit and I don't doubt they will be seen as the Floyd of their age in a couple of decades. I just want to give Guy a big hug and find him a nice girl.
on 10 March 2014
It's rare these days that I listen to a CD of songs and am so moved by it on first listen. This recording just hit the spot and has been on repeat in my office, in the car and at home. To me, this is a much more immediate record than their last one, with no songs as filler. It simply feels like a whole. Beautiful production values. Highlights for me? The title track, Colour Fields and Charge. But then, I like them all.....
on 18 March 2014
As a self confessed massive Elbow fan, I could probably have guessed at 5 stars for this before its release. Unlike some of the reviewers on here, I've always loved the more mellow side of Elbow and this album certainly is their most mellow to date. As one reviewer put it, fans of 'Build a Rocket Boys' will love this, especially as it continues on a similar musical theme. The fact that there are not really any specific standout tracks seems to me to be more an indication that this album flows quite beautifully as a complete body of work.
In conclusion, this is more of a real 'sit down and listen' album than a collection of songs with an anthem or two for TV producers to latch onto.
on 24 May 2014
How do Elbow keep their feet on the ground so well? They don't look like pop stars or seem to think they're different from the rest of us.
I can't think of another group that turns ordinary life into poetry like these guys – although in a different way Amy Winehouse did.
Even the mournful stuff is uplifting, because – unlike cliché and artifice – freshness and honesty are life-affirming.
Sorry that sounds a bit preachy, but I think I can get away with it because aren't we all? It says so in the album, anyway. "I am a preacher, when I've got it on me, and I've got it on me..."
Buy it. Listen to it. Love it!
on 1 June 2014
I'm not going to rush out and buy all their albums but I was blown away by this. It is not my usual fare but this is just quality. Also and for me important is Guy Garvey's vocals which are as well as being beautifully sung are in his natural dialect. We all have dialects so let's enjoy them please. Back to the album: there are not many (count them on the fingers of of one hand) which manage to combine such honesty with appropriate musicality. I suppose I would compare them (badly) in those terms with Radiohead. Please don't get on my case about different genres, that isn't what I'm on about. More about emotional honesty maybe also Pink Floyd