One band that has been on my list of ‘must sees’ no longer tours. In fact, I’m not even sure they did all that many tours of the states to begin with and the one I was aware of was a reunion of sorts that was cancelled shortly after being announced. As far as I know that band never has regrouped or released another album. Some say that’s because the four albums they released were perfection and thus will never be repeated. Others say that its simply that they don’t need to make music since most of the band members have other careers while others say just be patient, they’ll record again soon. Well while we wait for The Blue Nile to reform, record and reunite, I have something that might pacify those off you in my small reading audience that love the atmospheric sounds of bands like The Blue Nile- That’s a band called Elbow.
The English band, Elbow, has recently released their seventh studio record called Little Fictions and like the previous releases it’s a challenging yet rewardingly, thoughtful record that makes your ears spin with its lush sounds and sophisticated influences. The albums opener, “Magnificent (She Says)” is getting plenty of play on KZYR currently and provides a grand and accessible introduction to the band and their sound which is one part Velvet Underground, one part Peter Gabriel and one part insert your favorite poet here. Elbow doesn’t rock as much as it just rolls. And though the lyrics tend to be ambiguous at times, you can tell they are trying to get to something all the while. Its something lavish and beautiful hidden beneath the depths. There’s a couplet in ‘Magnificent” that I think explains the whole album’s ethos:
“And there she stands/Throwing her arms around the world/A world that doesn’t even know/How much it needs this little girl”
There are political takes in light of the recent Brexit elections in songs like “K2” and unique love songs like ‘Trust The Sun” (with it’s Gabriel-esque drums) all meshed in a audio soup that simmers in your ears. There are full string orchestras that build ridiculous tension and world class choirs providing vocal depth and forbearance to this record of special merit. As I listened to this record numerous times, I found myself identifying a song that was the centerpiece of the album and its central message. The interesting thing is that that particular song changed with each and every listen, which just adds to this record’s appeal. At times I thought the My Morning Jacket inspired (and borrowed) “Firebrand & Angel” held the unit together as its core like a ‘best friend never-ending forgets all my stories.” but then “All Disco” with its “what does it prove if you die for a tune” mentality beseeching music snobs everywhere to lighten up and enjoy the vibe because “it’s really all disco.”
Disco or elegiac progressive rock, does it matter? Elbow weaves aggressive African beats, Brian Eno inspired guitars and crawling bass lines to make Tony Levin sit up and take note, on a 10 song atmospheric aural ride that deserves to be heard on an expansive (read: real speakers) sound system. Don’t cheese this record out on your earbuds as a cheap low intensity stream file. Splurge again and buy the CD or a high end audio file. Sit back and enjoy this record over and over.