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The Seldom Seen Kid

4.3 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 22, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 22, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Geffen
  • ASIN: B0015I2P0Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,888 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Elbow, in my honest opinion, are one of the world's most highly underrated bands.
This album deserves listen after listen after listen.
Each time I keep finding more and more reasons to think if this album as one of the best albums for years, and a sure contender for an album of the year.
Stand out tracks.
Bones of You. Storming track with an amazingly clever mix of hard bass line and single note acoustic strumming. Simply amazing.
Mirrorball. Simply put, this has to be one of the best tracks on an album ever.
The kick drum beat and piano in this track send shivers down my spine. EVERY. TIME. I. HEAR. IT.
Weather to Fly. Gorgeous. Pure class.
Elbow have just pulled out all the stops on this album. It is climbing very quickly to one of my all time classics.
And above all, I just cannot write a review without mentioning Guy Garvey's lyrical genius.
If I gush on about his way with words, I'll embarass myself. He has a gift. He is one of modern rock's geniuses.
I'll leave it at that.
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Format: Audio CD
In my view, Elbow has been not received the attention they've deserved, neglected and passed by as the spotlight has shown instead on similarly innovative countrymen Radiohead and Coldplay. Perhaps their excellent new CD will change that. The Seldom Seen Kid moves from songs filled with Pink Floydian grandeur (ex., "the Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver"), to Beatlesque sing-alongs ("One Day Like This") and a lot of quality material along the way. The arrangements are stunning, including an extremely effective use of keyboards and synths. There is an interesting variety of musical moods including the dark carnival ride of "The Fix," a relatively straight-ahead blues rocker (the mighty "Grounds for Divorce") and a couple of gloomy widescreen ballads. This new Elbow recording is so good it's made me want to go back and reassess their previous works. It's one of the better things I've heard so far in '08.
2 Comments 30 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Elbow, one of my favorite active bands, have never made a truly perfect album, and this isn't one either. It doesn't need to be. Destined as with its predecessors to get many and many a spin in my player, Elbow's fourth release continues to demonstrate why they are far ahead of the field. The murky, melancholy Mancunian brit-rockers give us another round of pint-aided romantic reflections on the everyday, with the customary layers of thick guitars, pianos, and cavernous snares and kicks.

In each previous album, Elbow's thrown something new into their trademark sound. This time, it's a bit of a showman's edge, most notable in the the zany track The Fix (which with Richard Hawley's co-vocals sounds like a preposterous musical number from a Tim Burton flick), and also on One Day Like This (the string melody of which recalls My Fair Lady). There is a greater emphasis on the string section, starting with the dramatic stabs in the otherwise breezing opening number Starlings. As always, there's a classic Elbow stomp track (the amusing Grounds for Divorce takes its place alongside kindred spirits Fallen Angel and Forget Myself). There's the late-album lull (the piano-dominated Some Riot). There's the would-be anthem (One Day Like This tries but doesn't have the stunning emotional power of the immaculate Grace Under Pressure from Cast Of Thousands). There's the classic piano-driven ballad (Mirrorball, a gorgeous track, one of their best).

Then of course there's Guy Garvey's top-notch lyricism, again on display here. If Asleep in the Back's lyrics were dominated by urban rat race discontent, Cast of Thousands' by gossip, and Leaders of the Free World by love and heartbreak, this record has a far more domestic feel, which seems natural as the band ages.
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Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elbow's "The Seldom Seen Kid" truly gets better with every listening. The music's indie mix of synthesized keyboard tempered by bluesy guitar complements the soulful voices of lead singer Guy Garvey and the rest of the band. Pink Floyd seems to be a definite influence, especially in "The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" and "An Audience with the Pope," but don't think for a minute that Elbow's sound is derivative. "The Seldom Seen Kid" exudes originality on every track.

There's not a single song I dislike on this CD, although I have my favorites: "Grounds for Divorce," "The Bones of You," "An Audience with the Pope," and "On a Day Like This." The instrumental texture varies from track to track, from the percussion and synthesizer-driven "The Fix" (which sounds like it might belong in a contemporary musical) to the orchestration of "On a Day Like This" to New Age-sounding opening notes to "The Starling" to the acoustical guitar and piano of "Friend of Ours." The unifying factor is Garvey's pure voice that never dominates; he sings as though he is another one of the instruments. The band has dedicated this CD, in particular the song "Friend of Ours," to a friend who passed away, and their affection and longing comes through, even on some of the more upbeat songs.

I have listened to "The Seldom Seen Kid" a dozen times, and each time I like something else about it. I highly recommend this CD to anyone who appreciates indie/alternative rock with a clean, yet complex sound.
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