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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.
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 10 March 2014
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!
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on 10 March 2014
Loved this album from the first listen. There's not a bad track on here, and for me it's second only to the mighty 'Leaders of the Free World' in the Elbow canon. It's a more consistent album than 'Build a Rocket Boys' and a more coherent album than 'Seldom Seen Kid'; the flow of the album in its entirety is a thing of joy - there's no flab, just ten perfect tracks making up a very satisfying whole.
You can hear musical passages that could come from any of Elbow's previous albums, and I really feel they have not only consolidated their position as British musical national treasures but have made their best album in nearly ten years. In particular, I love the return to the prog and post-rock touches that were often missing from the previous two albums. 'The Blanket of Night' is also the best album closer of their career.
Somehow, I knew this one was going to chime with me when I heard the strings appear 3 minutes into 'Charge'. The arrangement and melodic sweep of the track at this point cries out, 'we're here, and we are still the lads to beat'. It's good to have them back.
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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.....
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on 15 March 2014
In amongst all the talk of this album being cohesive, consistent and other repeatable C-words, its key strength is being missed: melody. I don't mean this in a pop-song sensibility way or even in the way that it's particularly hummable, but rather in the fact that, where Build a Rocket (in particular) lacked melody to the extent that the vocal line and key piano/ guitar line actually followed one another like 7 year-olds having a kickabout for much of the album, this collection is more finished and polished. Garvey's voice is also improving; at times he sounds like a Northern Mark Hollis (Talk Talk), a compliment that I suspect he'd be delighted with.
At the centre of all this loveliness is 'My Sad Captains', a song that moved me to tears on its first listen. It wasn't the sentimental and beautiful lyrics. It wasn't the brass band, as wondrous as it is. It wasn't the familiar, yearning chord progression (Elbow are nowhere near obtuse enough musically - thank the stars - to be considered a proper prog act). It was the song as a unit, how all the pieces are carefully woven together.
A beautiful, considered and intelligent album.
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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.
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The last album was beautifully enhanced with the Halle Youth Choir in a way that was organic and not at all gimmicky; thoughtful and well composed and subtly produced. Translated well to the live stage too.

This latest album is pointed and enhanced with very original use (in popular music context) of woodwinds and brass - I didn't want to title my review with windy goodness in case it's taken the wrong way :D

The 4 stars rather than 5 is because it has the warm blanket of familiarity of all things Elbow, so it doesn't sound earth shattering musically (although the lyrics are as always astoundingly insightful and often moving) - it does however grow on you with subtle detail of instrumentation and clever accompaniment.

This review will probably be updated with further listening, since Elbow's multilayered sound world changes perception everytime you hear it.
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on 10 March 2014
Like all previous Elbow albums this is a grower. it demands that you stop and listen to it. You cannot just stick it on and sing along however each and every track is beautifully constructed and effortlessly delivered. Stand out tracks so far are Real Life (Angel) and My Sad Captain....possibly their best since Scattered Black and Whites. Agreed this album doesn't have the big anthems like Open Arms or One day Like This, but I believe this has the potential to be Elbows greatest album since Asleep in the Back.
Another masterpiece from the boys from Bury.
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on 26 January 2017
Everything sounds better on vinyl and this is no exception. One of their best albums in my opinion and the ability to get it on an analog system makes it even better. Fantastic and very happy with this!
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