Sound — 8
Elbow are a Britpop and Rock band hailing from Manchester England. There sound is sometimes compared to the likes of fellow Britpop and Rock bands Blur and Coldplay. They have received widespread commendations from other major artists such as R.E.M and U2, and Velvet Underground. Aside from this, all their previous albums have hit sub-15 on the UK charts. But despite all this critical acclaim, Elbow have not received much in the way of commercial success. But hopefully this is all about to change for the better as their fourth studio album The Seldom Seen Kid is little short of a masterpiece. The album starts off somewhat misleading with huge blasts of noise on track 'Starlings'. This then settles into a calm love song whose sound evokes thoughts of the sea and twinkling stars. The second track 'The Bones of You' is an absolute gem with it's tantalizing, slightly flamenco-esque sound. But it is first single 'Grounds for Divorce', which at first listen, is sure to stand out amidst all the other tracks. When the main riff (reminiscent of Muse) and stomping drums combo hits, it's hard not to let out a smile (unless you're deaf, an animal killer, or a pedophile) as this is what music is all about: those sudden bursts of energy and excitement. The sound varies somewhat on each song, but whereas this would normally disrupt the pattern and smoothness of the album, this is not the case as the songs flow perfectly, stylishly and gracefully into one another throughout the record. Songs like 'The Fix' with a groove that wouldn't be out of place on a mature Sherlock-Homes-esque movie score, stands perfectly strong next to piano ballad 'Some Riot'. Currently at #5 on the UK charts, the fourth offering from Elbow sees them progress into a band comfortable with making elegant, heartfelt music.
Lyrics — 9
After listening intently to the lyrics, it is obvious that Guy Garvey is a lyricist who wears his heart on his sleeve. His lyrics are intelligent, thought provoking, and honest to the bone. In opener 'Starlings', which is a song about chasing a lover, Garvey sings: You are the only thing in any room you're ever in; I'm stubborn, selfish, and too old. His honest, self critical lyrics run throughout the album. Another interesting song is The Fix which is about drugs and guest stars Richard Hawley. The constant trading of lyrics between Hawley and Garvey is mesmerizing as they sing: The fix is in, the snaps of the stewards so candid; the fix is in, yes our pigeons have finally landed and The redoubtable beast has had Pegasus pills; we'll buy him the patch in the Tuscany hills. Garvey's voice is the ideal complement to his beautifully written lyrics. His voice perfectly captures and holds the lyrics so well amongst the already moving and heartfelt instrumentals.
Overall Impression — 10
First impressions of the album are, to be honest, not great. The album seems somewhat under produced, under layered, and too slow. But this deceptiveness is sure to pass over as once you give the album a proper fighting chance it will reveal its true beauty. The Seldom Seen Kid is an album full of emotion, maturity, and depth; an album that most bands spend a lifetime trying to create; an album that should see Elbow propelled into worldwide success and fame.