Elbow: Build A Rocket Boy!

“And my sister buzzes through the room leaving perfume in the air. And that’s what triggered this. I come back here from time to time. I shelter here some days.” (Scattered black and whites from Asleep in the Back 2001)

Guy Garvey certainly does come back here from time to time. Here, being his memories of days gone by. Usually days of childhood. Days of love, loss, betrayal, bullying, heartache, brusised shins, skinned knees… he shelters amongst the angst, evoking our own memories of a time when life was simpler, less hurried, slightly more brutal, but, never-the-less somewhere that we return to again and again, in our hearts and minds. Build a Rocket Boy! is the new Elbow album. Yet it is the same album that they’ve been making for over 10 years now. The reason I chose the lyric from Scattered Black and Whites is that, apart from being my favourite track off their debut album, it covers a lot of the lyrical areas that Guy covers on this, their fifth album. This is not a criticism. If it’s not broken don’t fix it. If you loved the first 4 albums you will love this. If you’ve only bought The Seldom Seen Kid you’ll love this. If you think Elbow is that funny bit that bends, between your shoulder and your hand, you will love this album. Basically, if you have ears and any sense of good taste, you will love this album. What do Elbow sound like? Elbow, thats who. They’ve burrowed their own furrow for so long they have become Elbowesque in everything they do. The loud/quiet bits, the choruses of voices, the childhood memories that fail to please. If you had a bad childhood does it make you a bad adult? If your childhood was bad do you use that to inspire you to make your later years better? If it was so good that nothing can match it, do you spend adulthood wishing to go back to a time that is forever in the past? Or finally, if you have a good childhood it sets you up for a lifetime of joy. I can’t quite work out where Guy fits into this hypothesis. I think he had a good childhood that he yearns to go back to or maybe not.

This week Elbow are playing Arenas around our good land. This success is based not on this new album but on their last; The Seldom Seen Kid. This was their break through. This turned them from the ugly sisters they were, to the cinderellas they are now. I resisted the temptation to see them again. Why? Well £30 a ticket, soul-less aircraft hangers, luke-warm larger at £4 a pint, fans who don’t know the words to Newborn. You know what I mean. Like when the team you’ve supported all your life suddenly get to the cup final or are pushing for promotion and suddenly the ground is full. Where you once sat alone you now cannot move. Where you once strolled to the bar for a half-time pint you now queue for the whole 15 minutes. You wanted this. You told everyone how good Elbow were. You wondered how Cast of Thousands wasn’t a best seller. You despaired at the complete ignoring of Leaders of the Free World. But when all of a sudden they were on the main stage at Glastonbury, they’d won the Mercury award and every programme in the world was using One Day Like This, you didn’t like it. You wanted them to be famous but now they are you want your band back. You loved them then, but now that everyone else loves them, you’re jealous. Know how I feel? I’m sure Frances Tomelty does. This is me. I love this album but I wish they were still playing places that I like to see bands in. Elbow at The Westgarth? Now that would be a gig.

So, I’ve written a review longer than most reviews and I’ve still not mentioned the music. Do I need to? Go buy the album. Download it in an instant. Hear it everywhere. Its fabulous. Like the previous four, its a grower. In months to come, a classic. Elbow are one of our hidden gems, that aren’t quite as hidden as they were. Their star is shining brightly. Do they deserve it, yes. Does it make me happy? Maybe!

LINKS:

ELBOW       http://www.elbow.co.uk/

By peter on March 18, 2011


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