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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking back is for the birds
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...
Published on March 9, 2011 by Joseph Geni

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elbow's Edge
I have listened to the album several times now and I am currently of the opinion that "Build A Rocket Boys" falls far short of the fantastic "The Seldom Seen Kid". This is a very average album. Especially for Elbow. A little too mellow. I wish they would have cut it loose a few more times. The opening track "The Birds" is by far the best track on the album, followed by...
Published on April 19, 2011 by sacflies


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking back is for the birds, March 9, 2011
By 
Joseph Geni (Evanston, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Build A Rocket Boys! (MP3 Music)
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. Neat Little Rows feels a bit out of place, as if they felt they had to put in an anthemic stomper just to make the record easier to tour. Also, With Love probably should've been a b-side. On the other hand, they've made room for a simple strummed acoustic guitar number, Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl, that probably would've been a b-side on previous Elbow records, and it's a welcome addition.

Ultimately, the reason this album succeeds is the same as their previous four; the tension between a band that wants you to sing to the rafters with them and a band that wants to quietly break your heart. Elbow can still do both, sometimes in the same song.

Over five albums, Guy Garvey's lyrical themes have moved from youthful urban discontent to pub gossip to love and heartbreak to domesticity and childrearing, and now he's looking back towards his own childhood with reminiscence. At this rate, we can anticipate that the band's seventh or eighth record will be a meditation on retirement and the British health care system, but if anyone can do it with aplomb, it's Garvey. This is a band that knows how to age gracefully.

Standout tracks: The Birds, Lippy Kids, Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl, High Ideals
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5! Once again, greatness. But slows down near the end..., March 22, 2011
By 
Thomas White (Bel Air, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Elbow - Do they know those days are golden?, April 12, 2011
This review is from: Build a Rocket Boys! (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. The most obvious is the gorgeous centerpiece "Lippy Kids" the lyrics of which contain the albums title and which is a poignant meditation on being young where Garvey reflects on "Stealing booze and down long hungry kisses/And nobody knows me at home anymore". It leads to that regretful questioning readily understood to all people over a certain age that "Do they know those days are golden"? "Lippy Kids" is worth the price of admission alone, but it is matched by "Dear Friends" which derives to be played on repeat at least ten times and was is in Garvey's words devised "in the middle of a US tour, telling my friends I was thinking of them that day and it made me feel at home". It is simply breathtaking and will strike chords with anyone missing friends or family. The other songs which screams out on initial listens are the gentle acoustic heartbreak love song "Jesus was a Rochdale girl" which rolls along at a snails pace and is beautifully sung by Garvey, the very poignant and emotional "The River" will leave a large lump in your throat while Open Arms was recently performed on Jools Holland and had the crowd in thrall.

Throughout the album Craig Potter and the rest of the band weave those intricate haunting melodies and when they step up to the plate it's a force of nature, The big opener "The Birds" literally explodes at 5 minutes and is beautifully reprised later with their piano tuner John Mosley bringing an aged fragility to the song. In between you get the second hypnotic Elbow tribute to the late Brian Clancy "The night will always win" the more expansive mood guitar shifts of High ideals" and the swampy urban blues of the punchy "Neat little rows".

"Build a rocket boys" sees the quality control button on full. Granted it does not represent a huge departure for the band and "With Love" backed by many voices is a bit Elbow by formula. These are nonetheless nit picking complaints since Elbow has hit a winning formula but it is not one of either U2 bombast or Coldplay repetition. Elbow is a band where the music is about shade, nuances and beauty, as such "Build a Rocket boys" is a seductive treat from a band that deserve every ounce of success.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, July 23, 2011
By 
G. Brozeit (Fairlawn, OH, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Build a Rocket Boys! (Audio CD)
I found out about Elbow quite by accident while watching a recent episode of Jools Holland during a flight/hotel layover in England. The first time I heard "Lippy Kids" I couldn't believe how much it touched me. If you're an older fart like me, having grown up listening to Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and other artists of that era, "Lippy Kids" will spark some memories that you've forgotten for years. And the anthem "Open Arms" really propels an optimism and joy that is missing from so much of today's music.

I decided to get the previous two albums of Elbow after listenin to this album. Both are fantastic. Each has a collection of songs that will haunt fans of this type of music. Looking forward to working backwards to the first two albums and can't wait to see what they'll come up with next.

Elbow is a big success in England. I only hope more Americans will discover this intelligent, imaginative band.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful as usual, April 18, 2011
This review is from: Build a Rocket Boys! (Audio CD)
Don't often get excited about new albums these days. But every now and then a gem surfaces. They're considered top of the class in the UK and it's easy to see why.
The comparison with Peter Gabriel's work is quite noticeable and they definitely have prog rock leanings without any pomposity.
It's one of those great works that will grow on you.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elbow's Edge, April 19, 2011
By 
sacflies (Raleigh, NC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Build a Rocket Boys! (Audio CD)
I have listened to the album several times now and I am currently of the opinion that "Build A Rocket Boys" falls far short of the fantastic "The Seldom Seen Kid". This is a very average album. Especially for Elbow. A little too mellow. I wish they would have cut it loose a few more times. The opening track "The Birds" is by far the best track on the album, followed by "Lippy Kids", "High Ideals" and "Dear Friends". Perhaps a little too "safe" would be how I describe the album. Elbow seem to have lost a lot of the edge that was present with previous albums. Of course I will keep listening and it may grow on me more. But right now I have serious doubts that it will. Overall it is just too...bland.

Having said all that, "The Birds"....man what a great song. It really soars at around the 5 minute mark and has me reaching for the volume to crank it up everytime I listen to it. But I am afraid to say that I don't find myself reaching for the volume during the rest of the album. It definitely needed some more "crank it up" moments. No other tracks really even come close to the great opening track. And that is a disappointment. Elbow is one of the better and more creative bands going these days. And the day in which a new Elbow album is released will always be a good day. Only this time it is just not as good as I was hoping.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very new and fresh sound, May 20, 2014
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This review is from: build a rocket boys! (MP3 Music)
A good comparison would be a well played band and a very calm voice of the lead singer somewhat of a peter Gabriel type or maybe not
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent, July 10, 2013
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This review is from: Build A Rocket Boys! (MP3 Music)
There is really not much to say other than this is an exceptional work from Elbow. Timeless would be a good way to describe it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful album, October 6, 2012
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This review is from: Build A Rocket Boys! (MP3 Music)
Elbow never disappoints and it is such a pleasure to listen to beautiful music. Prior to their itunes 2012 festival performance, I have only listened to a handful of songs, especially since they are not widely played here in the U.S. or at least where I live. Their festival performance informed me that I had been missing out on a lot of their music. I am always a fan of music coming from Manchester. Keep it up boys! Please release some new material soon.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as "Seldom Seen Kid", February 18, 2012
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This review is from: Build A Rocket Boys! (MP3 Music)
I became an Elbow fan after buying the "Seldom Seen Kid". This album is a bit slower and duller than that. Its an OK album but I cannot help but be disappointed. I will stay an Elbow fan after this release but I had hoped to grow as a fan when I bought this album.
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Build a Rocket Boys!
Build a Rocket Boys! by Elbow (Audio CD - 2011)
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