Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys! (Fiction)

March 20, 2011 by  

It is always tempting to begin a review about a band with links to Manchester by passing comment, if not extolling the virtues of the city’s ability to consistently churn out high calibre bands. Elbow’s ties with Manchester are of course strong but their rise has been a largely slow burn process and as such the Elbow story is one that has been 14 years if not more in the making. ‘Churned out’ they are not. In this time the group has bought us the likes of tracks ‘New Born’, ‘Fallen Angel’, ‘Station Approach’ and ‘One Day Like This’.

During the aforementioned period Garvey and Co. have managed to build a statesman like level of credibility amongst the music press and fans alike. The former point perhaps made possible via the charm and dignity of the band’s front man and also by the fact the Elbow story is one with its roots firmly in song writing and seemingly unaffected by media attention or fame.

Picking up from the previous comment made regarding song writing, Build A Rocket Boys! is in the most part a continuation of the Elbow of old and arguably there would be disappointment amongst the band’s now army of followers if this wasn’t the outcome. As ever, sonically, the tracks are largely a bed for Garvey to spill out his musings and observations and this now tried and tested method doesn’t fail the band here.

Stand out track ‘The Birds’ is frankly clever and also slightly angular, reaching a plateau using soaring synth, hooky backing vocals and hints of Pete Turner’s overdriven bass. Another gem, ‘Lippy Kids’ displays song writing of the highest order and is essentially the sort of understated work which evokes goose bumps. At the other end of the grand, almost orchestral spectrum which Elbow do so well here, Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl consisting mainly of an acoustic guitar part and tender vocals is cute and a true testament to singer Guy Garvey’s abilities as a front man.

With this last track in mind, whilst the quieter Elbow moments on Build A Rocket Boys! perhaps aren’t for everyone, when suffused with the bolder tracks, Build A Rocket Boys! feels more like a well written and award winning novel than an album. Yes, at times, the album can feel a tiny bit lack lustre but then again an album such as this has to trickle along and that is the whole point. On the whole Build A Rocket Boys! is, well, a rocket and picking holes in this work really would be an unnecessary distraction from Elbow’s overall sterling performance here.

[rating:4.5]


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