The Seldom Seen Kid Review

artist: Elbow date: 03/27/2008 category: compact discs
Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
Release Date: Mar 17, 2008
Label: Polydor
Genres: Rock
Number Of Tracks: 12
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.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 9.5
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reviews (2) 14 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9
The Seldom Seen Kid Reviewed by: UG Team, on march 27, 2008
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 8

Lyrics: 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. // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 9
The Seldom Seen Kid Reviewed by: jammyninja, on march 27, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: This is my first Elbow album, and so perhaps I can't tell you whether the band's sound has progressed or stayed relatively the same, but perhaps that doesn't matter. I bought the album on the strength of single "Grounds For Divorce" along with an acoustic performance of "Some Riot". "Grounds For Divorce" is both raucous and beautiful, with Guy Garvey's soft voice contrasting with the Zeppelin-esque fuzz riff. "The Bones of You" again juxtaposes soft, acoustic verses with a wet, almost Muse-like bass line in the chorus, a line that does not seem memorable and yet when you listen to the song again, you long for it to arrive. "Weather to Fly" and the epic "One Day Like This" are upbeat, atmospheric and life affirming. "The Fix" mixes some groove with a Shadows-y solo, and "An Audience with the Pope" is another track that is quirky and compulsive. The final song I will draw attention to is "Friend of Ours", probably the most emotionally driven track on the album, in tribute to a late friend of the band. Guy is on top form singing wise, in my opinion his voice is probably among the best at being emotional but not melodramatic. The track has tasteful, endearing flutters of piano, bass, guitar and strings throughout and this comes together to form a beautiful tribute. As we are on a guitar site, I should probably talk about Mark Potter's playing. The subtle slide playing in "Grounds For Divorce" is perhaps a much better example of what his playing is like than the fuzz riff. If you listen to the whole album, you realise that the guitar is never intrusive on the music. When the guitar is brought to the front it is tasteful, melodic and contributes to the overall feel of the song, and those three qualities sum up Mark's playing perfectly. // 9

Lyrics: "Friend of Ours" is a good example to use in terms of describing Elbow's approach to lyrics. Guy Garvey's singing adds an emotional weight to the song rarely found these days, and when coupled with concise, beautiful words like "Love you mate". He softly utters perhaps the most fitting words for a song about grief: "Never very good at goodbyes." The album is probably about 75% of this style, of beautifully sung lyrics that are heartfelt and real, and then the other 25% consists of more quirky, poetical verse. "I have an audience with the Pope. And I'm saving the world at eight." springs to mind. Guy is joined by the smooth, jazzy voice of Richard Hawley on "The Fix" and the lyrics reflect the slightly odd pairing with equal amounts of strangeness. "The fix is in, the jockey is cocky and vicious". Overall Guy has a fantastic voice being perhaps the only consistent instrument used, and this really makes the album in my opinion. // 9

Overall Impression: Elbow are very difficult band to compare others with. They have a mellowness to them similar to some of "In Rainbows" and then they shove a track like "Grounds For Divorce" or "Audience With The Pope" on the album to show it's not all about sparse, delicate soundscapes. I cannot think of anyone with a voice like Guy Garvey, either in sound or in emotion and this makes the album and the band special to me. My favourite tracks would be "Grounds for Divorce", "Friend of Ours", "One Day Like This", "Audience With The Pope" and "The Bones Of You". I love the quality of the song writing on this album, it shows that a talented guitar player does not have to take focus off the songs. Perhaps the only negative thing about this album is that I don't know whether they would be able to replicate the songs live, but I would gladly give them a shot (They were good on Jonathan Ross and they do play live on that show). Also I am afraid that their earlier stuff might not compare, of course hardened Elbow fans would probably like to bite my head off for inferring a later album is better than an earlier one. I am so glad I took a chance with this album, it makes for an engaging, pleasant listen overall. // 9

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