2008 release of their fourth album. The Seldom Seen Kid is a welcome return from the band, driven by a thunderous riff that reminds listeners of Elbow's love of the heavy as well as the delicate. Produced by keyboard player, Craig Potter, the album is the follow up to 2005's universally acclaimed Leaders Of The Free World. The lyrical core of The Seldom Seen Kid sees Guy Garvey address the key questions of life. The big themes of love and loss become the central focus of an album that sees Elbow, a band universally recognized for their musical ability and innovation, stretch their sonic template further than ever before. 12 tracks. Polydor.
There are few things in life quite so liberating as the opening track on an Elbow album--they're like airlocks between the plainness of the outside world and the elaborate melancholic heave-ho that you are likely about to submerge yourself in. Following predecessors "Any Day Now", "Ribcage" and "Station Approach", "Starlings" opens their fourth album The Seldom Seen Kid
rising from a bed of tumbling electronic subtlety like a depressed Atari game loading up, adding bare touches of piano, glimpses of ambient guitar, out of body background vocals, an understated pulse and a wisp of strings, before--EXCELSIS!--a fanfare avalanche of horns crashes the gate and elevates things to gasping palatial heights, before Guy Garvey's inimitable gravel tone and wrenchingly poetic reinterpretations of the everyday announce their arrival proper. It's astonishing, by far the most progressive moment on the album and if anything it sets the bar too high. But even when the pace dips, and songs like "Mirrorball" and "Weather to Fly" don't distinguish themselves quite enough, their textural peerlessness remains. This is a beautiful sounding record. Their collaboration with Richard Hawley may be more of a curiosity than a thing of beauty, but the highs, the riffing cross-stitch of "Ground for Divorce", the desolate grandeur of "The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" and the enlightened string-laden anthem "On a Day Like This" (like their own Sound of Music
--only substitute the Alpine peaks for a Manchester high-rise) number amongst the best of their career. --James Berry