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Build a Rocket Boys!

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Audio CD, April 12, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

2011 album from the Manchester-based Indie Rock quintet, the follow-up to their Mercury Prize winning 2008 album The Seldom Seen Kid. As on their highly-successful predecessor, the band chose to self produce the record in their hometown. While the lyrics are strongly influenced by singer Guy Garvey's childhood. Elbow's sound is as bold and grand as it has ever been. Includes the single 'Neat Little Rows'. Universal.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 12, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Downtown/Cooperative Music
  • ASIN: B004H0N4PC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,432 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Geni on March 9, 2011
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Everything you need to know about Build A Rocket Boys! you can gleam from the first two songs. The 8-minute opener, The Birds, is the longest the band has done, building slowly with pulsing guitar notes before opening up with bleep-blip Peter Gabriel synthesizers and, finally, a full-on orchestral explosion. The follow-up, Lippy Kids was the first taste of this album that Elbow gave us back around holiday time, and for good reason: musically and emotionally, it's the heart of the record, with Guy Garvey doing his lyrical magic on themes of childhood and memory over a gentle choir and piano backdrop. Every subsequent track takes its cue from these two.

It's no surprise to learn that keyboardist Craig Potter helmed production duties again. The lush, warm arrangements recall the band's last record, The Seldom Seen Kid, and little keyboard and synth touches can be found in all sorts of nooks and crannies. More than previous Elbow outings, this one has an electro/minimalist edge, with whole songs built around a looped single piano note (Lippy Kids, The Night Will Always Win) or sustained, vibrating drones and chords. There's even a 3-note video game square-sine synth behind Open Arms (which, by the way, is a rollicking pub sing-a-long and not, thankfully, a Journey cover). Has Potter been listening to Radiohead, or to Terry Riley? Either way, it lets the band keep its sound while keeping things fresh, and it's more subtle color than in your face experimentation. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Brian Eno produced the next record.

Build A Rocket Boys! isn't perfect. Some of the songs seem without anchor. In fact, so does the album; it lacks a true lead single.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thomas White on March 22, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm a HUGE fan of Elbow. All of their albums have a unique flavor to them, while still sticking to their overarching style. Build A Rocket Boys! certainly does not disappoint in the slightest bit. It's a great follow-up to 2008's near-perfect The Seldom Seen Kid (my favorite Elbow album.) My only gripe with it is that it slows down about halfway through the album and never picks up the pace again. Open Arms begins to break out of the slow pace, but the second half still begins to feel like a Guy Garvey solo album rather than Elbow. And "The Birds (Reprise)" was just a bit throwing the theme over the top, having an old man sing it, reflecting on his time at home. But if that's your thing....

Lyrically, it's another masterpiece. I think some of the greatest lyrics ever by Garvey and some of the greatest lyrics ever period. Really the lyrics are what brings this album into the upper echelon of music.

I'd really give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars, and that's just comparing it to Elbow's other work. If this were to go against the pop music of today it would be an 11 out of 5 stars. I'm sure I'll be listening forever.

UPDATE: After listening to this multiple more times, it has grown on me and I am increasing it's score to a 5 out of 5. Still not the biggest fan of "The Birds (Reprise)" but it's the only lacking track on the album, and the rest is pure musical and lyrical genius. A great-follow up to their last success. Every album has it's own flavor, and this one's just took a little getting used to.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black on April 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD
For the first time in their long career Elbow release an album as one of the mainstays of British music as opposed to a perennial aspiring contender. Its easy to forget that prior to the "Seldom Seen Kid" their album sales would not have been sufficient to fill a large Manchester pub as opposed to their recent epic homecoming gig at the Manchester Evening News Arena which was one of the most memorable nights in years. In every sense Seldom Seen Kid was a game changer for a band who had looked like they might drift out music lauded with critical praise but lacking mass popular acclaim.

On this fifth album they quietly and confidentially produce a record, which shows a band comfortable in its own skin. It does have some echoes of their best album "Leaders of the Free World" which was packed with big songs and thoughtful ballads, which took a while to register with music lovers, but once they got it they were locked into the Elbow "cell" with the key thrown away. There was little chance of the band producing Seldom Seen Kid 2 not least since Guy Garvey has admitted that the lead up to the album consciously felt "like a last-chance effort last time," and as a result they threw in everything and the kitchen sink. Pressure comes in different forms and follow ups can be equally tricky but on "Build a rocket boys" Elbow have succeeded and more.

All Elbow albums can take months to digest and on the first listens the overwhelming impression is of a slow burn. From there on the songs reveal themselves and even at this early stage if Elbow were to release a Greatest Hits album tomorrow at least four of the songs on here would be shoe in's.
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