11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Elbow's Very Best, 16 Nov. 2005
You would be forgiven for thinking that Elbow is simply a rip-off of Doves or Coldplay. Doves and Coldplay are more well-known, so they must be Elbow's inspiration, right? Wrong! Elbow have been together for over 10 years and they were writing songs for 'Asleep in the Back' before anyone had even heard of Coldplay. In fact, Chris Martin recently admitted that he used the Elbow track 'Grace Under Pressure' as inspiration for his song 'Fix You'. Unfortunately Chris Martin failed miserably in recreating the Elbow magic, but we can't blame him for wanting to imitate the sound of such an innovative and remarkable band.
I had been on the edge of my seat waiting for 'Leaders of the Free World' for what seemed decades and when it was finally released I was blown away. See, that's the brilliant thing about Elbow; it is obvious upon listening to their music that they spend time crafting each song into something truly special. There are absolutely no fillers whatsoever on this album.
The band's showcase begins with the brilliantly uplifting 'Station Approach'. The repetition of: "I never know what I want but I know when I'm low that I need to be in the town where they know what I'm like and don't mind" acts as a blinding build up to the explosive guitar/drum filled climax of the song. I also think the song is articulately constructed in the sense that it has the characteristics of a train: the drone of the wheels...the build up as the train picks up speed...the climax of noise as the train actually approaches the station...it's all been characterised by the song and it clearly demonstrates the band's immense talent. It's during this opening number that you either fall completely head over heels in love with the band as a new listener, or break out into a huge grin if you already think the band is incredible.
The rest of the album is much the same standard. The title track, 'Leaders of the Free World', is a blatant dig at Bush and Blair which manages to sound triumphant and inspiring rather than turning into yet another one of those anti-politician drones that many lesser bands would find acceptable to produce. Other stand-out tracks include the outstanding anthems 'Forget Myself' and 'Mexican Standoff', as well as beautiful ballads such as 'The Stops', 'My Very Best' and 'Great Expectations'. No song on this album fails to impress.
The bonus DVD which comes as part of this package is very skillfully made and is so much more than just a mere behind the scenes look at the recording of the album. Elbow recorded the album in a big space so 'The Soup Collective' were called in to record performances and add a bit of visual value to the whole experience. The bonus DVD contains a further song called 'McGreggor' which is rather dark and is perfect for demonstrating the sheer power and depth in Guy Garvey's voice.
Most of Elbow's songs contain build ups and climaxes and this is what makes them truly unique. I have yet to find another band which has managed to produce such diverse albums. Every single song on 'Asleep in the Back' makes me shiver from their sheer overwhelming beauty. 'Cast of Thousands' fills me with hope and calls out to my romantic side (Fugitive Motel will forever be the most romantic and awe-inspiring song I've ever heard). Rather than sticking with the exact same sound for Leaders of the Free World, Elbow have managed to "pull all the stops" and have successfully developed yet another unique masterpiece.