Sound — 8
I think the first thing to be said about Elbow's sound is that it is generally very mellow. What is important to note is that they have achieved this without sacrificing the uniqueness and originality of each and every track on the album. They maintain a steady tone throughout CD with noticeable but undisturbing variation. This is commendable as I find I can put the whole album on in the background while I am playing cards with friends or chilling out talking, and not once do I have to get up to go change the volume. Some tracks sound as though they were played somewhat half heartedly, or like the band were half asleep while playing. Depending on what kind of mood you are in, this can either be congratulated or criticised. Your opinion regarding this aspect is entirely reliant on the angle you approach it at.
Lyrics — 8
Guy Garvey's subtley versatile voice punctuates nicely over the smooth yet interesting melody on this album, sometimes delivering a mature croon (Newborn), other times reduced to merely a whisper (Don't Mix Your Drinks). The lyrics maintain a rather ethereal feel, either drifting in the abstract or hiding an inner meaning that we are kept unaware of. Interpretation is possible, but prepare to be confronted with many different possible ideas and conclusions that make you think.
Overall Impression — 8
I would highly recommend this album as it is not often that one finds one that can be put on and then well and truly left alone for a good hour or so. Do not expect anything as upbeat as The Seldom Seen Kid (except for perhaps one or two tracks), after all this album was probably approached entirely differently than the most recent. This is intended to be enjoyed for what it is, not what it developed into further down the line.