One of the pleasures of music is discovering a band early in their career and watching them grow and mature until they produce the album that you always suspected they were capable of. So it is with myself, Elbow and 'Leaders of the Free World'. For me, the highlights of 'Asleep in the Back' and 'Cast of Thousands' were 'Powder Blue' and 'Fugitive Motel' respectively. So is there anything on the new album that reaches the heights those two tracks attained? Well maybe not quite, but taken as a whole, this is a wonderful album which displays a level of song writing and craftsmanship rarely seen these days. It is some time since I owned an album in which I have felt confident enough to play every track from start to finish without worrying about 'that weaker track' or the usual 'fillers' (and OK Computer may be the last one, which gives some indication of how highly I rate this). Highlights are too many to mention and like all good albums, keep revealing themselves with each listening, but 'Great Expectations' is pure Elbow. Beautiful melody, and heart-rending lyrics from which Guy Garvey drains every last ounce of emotion. If this song doesn't bring to you tears, then nothing will. After years of promising so much, Elbow have finally delivered. My only worry now is how they'll manage to follow this. 'Leaders of the Free World' is their best album to date by a country mile, and although I haven't rubbed salt and pepper into my hair just yet, it's going to take a great deal of time and effort from the band to match this one. In the meantime though, this should just be enjoyed for the intimate, thought-provoking, polished piece of work it is. An absolute gem.
Bought as a present for a friend who adores track 1; unfortunately track 1 does not play on any of the 6 cd players the item was played on. As the cost was minimal, it feels churlish to complain, except that the item quality was described as "very good". Not really!
I remember seeing an unknown band supporting Muse and thinking at the time 'Sounds good live, wonder what the album's like'. Needless to say I bought the album and became hooked. This 3rd album is a pure gem. Every track has it's merit and I particularly praise 'The everthere and forget myself'. Guy Garvey should be up for a songwriting award with this collection. He leaves you in no doubt that life is a bit hard at times and love can tug at your heart strings. It's heart warming to think that the Brits can produce quality music, even if this band is never given the mass credit where it is clearly deserved and well overdue.
Regulars of indie night life were introduced to a disquieting concept last month with the release of "Forget Myself", the first single off "Leaders of the Free World". Elbow? Them drab Mancs, who can't really be called sub-Coldplay because they're too grey, bringing out a dance floor smash? But yes- with pounding drums and a shout along chorus, Elbow are back, clearly with something prove. Although there's nothing else on "Leaders..." that will satisfy the casual Franz fan, the same sense of things coming together for the Bury quintet is tangible throughout. Long-term fans will savour classic slow burners like "The Stops" and "My Very Best", but there's the sarkily spare "Picky Bugger" and the ferocious bite of the title track to consider, too. Guy Garvey's lyrics also seem to get better and better with every listen, with genius lines like 'I feel like I designed the buildings I walk past' and 'they're pacing Piccadilly in packs again' leaping out when you least expect it. "The Everthere" is a heart-wrenching take on "When I'm 64", whilst the man in "Great Expectations" is so drenched in love he imagines weddings in the most mundane of settings. Elbow are part of a very select group of British rock acts, which include in their number Super Furry Animals, British Sea Power and Mogwai, who every few years release yet another masterpiece which their fans devour and the general public largely ignores. No doubt "Leaders..." will attract the same amount of middling interest that "Cast of Thousands" did, but those who own it will know better. Why let the general public have songs as perfect as "An Imagined Affair" and "Station Approach" anyway? This is Elbow's best yet.
Truly an album that requires repeat listenings. Many, many times will you have to listen to this before you truly appreciate it. On first listen it's pretty enough, nothing new...but the album's genius lies under it's skin. I reccommend dimming the lights, lying down, playing this at a reasonable volume and listening very carefully to the sounds you're hearing. It's only then when it becomes apparent how unique Elbow are. Their trick involves compiling sounds together to form a cohesive whole, held together by enthusiastic drumming and bassing. Nowhere better is this exemplified than on the stunning "My Very Best"...I don't know where most of those noises come from, but added to the mix are lush violins, delicate electronics and spidery guitar lines. The cumulative impact is a gorgeous song. It's like building a palace out of gold bricks. The end effect is beautiful, but every single brick is equally beautiful. See, this album needs time to be picked apart. Listen to the intricate arrangements and appreciate how innovative this band truly are. Their sound is a warm, human sound, perfect for these winter months. Let it seep in and you'll find it soundtracking your life. Personally, I always hear "Station Approach" in my head when I walk through big cities these days.
as you can see from other reviews this album is obviously brilliant. previously i had heard nothing of Elbows work and only decided to get it because of the rave review in Q magazine and its true that it is a grower, but over the 2 months or so i have had it i have had 4 different "favourite songs" great expectations, leaders of the free world, the stops and station approach. this is testiment to the sheer brilliance of the album: there really is no filler, its all killer. Also all the other reviews here seem to also have different favourite songs with the most occuring seeming to be great expectations. try this song, give it a few listens and the u will be hooked. BUY IT