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Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
~~~ Background ~~~
Elbows are a band whose members are from Manchester, UK. They formed in 1990 and have been producing albums since 2001; however they only really burst into the mainstream consciousness in 2007 when the album "The Seldom Seen Kid" was released to critical acclaim. So impressed were the music aficionado's with the material that they saw fit to give it a mercury prize. -- The mercury music prize is a prize given by the British phonographic society to the best album of the year, at the time they won it was sponsored by Barclay. It tends to be won by "serious" music i.e. music with meaning and great instrumentation -- All tracks in this album, except "the fix" were written by elbow, the fix was a collaboration between elbow and the guest vocalist Richard Hawley of the Britpop band longpigs. The track "the bones of you" was based off of the aria "summertime" by George Gershwin who was a composer from 1898-1937. The band consists of Guy Garvey on vocals, Mark Potter on guitar and his brother Craig on keyboards with Pete Tuner on bass and Richard Jupp on Drums.
As to why I bought it, I heard the majestic "One day like this" and decided that anyone capable of producing that kind of beautiful, evocative and cosmically challenging music can't have done so by fluke and are worth paying a little more attention too. I wasn't disappointed as we will go on to see.
~~~ Artwork ~~~
The artwork in the sleeve is produced by Oliver East, an artist who has illustrated music albums for a number of years. The back of the box is in a sort of cream colour and the printed song titles are in a metallic silver colour except the last rack which is in a dull gold yellow like colour. This gives the album a very classy, refined feel much in keeping with the orchestral and synthetic feat the listener is about to voyage into to.
The sleeve of the box has a cube at the front and a picture of a car with yellow headlights. Pictures of people who look like they were drawn by a five year old and look a bit like bananas, there are pictures of streetlights again in school child style and these look a little like trees. I really don't know what it's meant to mean, perhaps some art connoisseurs could enlighten me, cause from my vantage point it looks like absurdism, and yet it's strangely stimulating. The first track features the same cartoon style with the drawing of an apartment; the next track features a picture of a road and trees. Track three is a train station and track four is more apartments.
Throughout the other tracks the same themes appear; city complexes and apartments. It seems to be an ode both to the industrial revolution and to humans capacity to build things (quite a few of the tracks are pictures of brick walls). It may be a comment on how humanity is a social creature and is programmed either by chance or design to work together and create a whole which is better and stronger than its constituent parts. Finally, it might be a criticism of how we all just act like cogs in a machine; for the most part we never take a small step back to appreciate the beauty of the world.
I quite like the artwork as its seemingly very straightforward and of superficial meaning yet you just know the art is actually subtly loaded with meaning; it very much compliments the intelligent music and poetic lyrics of the tracks.
~~~ Track by Track ~~~
Starts with a very watery, bubbling synth that sounds ever so slightly of pidgeons cooing and also like the hypothetical musical sound a stone would make if you skim it in the water and make ripples. This ripple sound comes from a synth that has a sort attack and sort decay with low sustain volume, it definitely has some sine wave character the other components seem to be triangle waves or square waves (probably both). Whilst the synth plays at the start a soft, slow, held back drum beat plays which is sparsely populated with just a few kicks and hi hat hits. A vocal choir in a lower mid register sing "ah's and ooh's". Then a gentle piano riff enters before a contrasting high string stab explodes into life at massive volume which is answered with a lower register legato string piece playing far softer and drawn out part, musically it's called fortesimopiano or subito, this is a classic question and answer phrase in music.
Lyrically it's very poetic and simple yet surprisingly deep and multi-layered. The singer describes how he will put off going to meeting the premier (it's either a literal statement in which case it infers it may be an older powerful man of political clout, or as I think a metaphor for where his priorities lie, like many of the lyrics in the song it works as both) of his country to meet the girl of his dreams. "You're the only thing in any room your ever in", means that she captivates him such that she is the center of everything he sees such that the rest of the world is just noise, it also hints at an individual who may be a little introverted such that she knows how attractive and pleasant her look and personality are. Finally, it may also be referring to how her looks and personality captivate every ones attention such that everything else pales in comparison to her.
"But find a man that's good for you; find a man that's truer than, find a man that needs you more than I". This is another devilishly clever lyric with multiple correct interpretations such is its clear yet ambiguous meaning. Which, on one level is him putting himself down because he is scarred of commitment and does not think he is handsome or interesting enough for her, on another it's a rhetorical question or challenge to a women who is not at all interested in him to see the good things he can offer, stability, loyalty and commitment.
"I'm stubborn selfish and too old" is both a statement from a man who is apparently too cynical for love and not wanting to commit to anything such as marriage, and yet it is also like him talking to himself and telling himself reasons why it won't work because he is scarred of declaring his love and being rejected as it would break it.
"I sat you down and told you the truest love is for oneself, you pulled apart my theory with a weary disinterested sigh", on the one level (the most obvious) this is a cynical older man telling a beautiful slightly younger women that he can't be with her because he loves himself too much to be married (but really as an act of misguided love because he wants her to find someone who is truer and needs her "more than I"). On the deeper, perhaps more precise level it's actually detailing how he is telling her that her love for him won't last because she loves her self too much and will eventually turn to someone more attractive than him whom she finds more in touch with her, she sighs because she thinks that he is fretting needlessly and she won't ever do that (yet her sigh is merely confirming how much she loves her self and doesn't listen to others). I really adore this lyric because on level she is sighing because she is the one with the pure love and lack of cynicism, on the other interpretation of this song he is merely a pragmatist and she is a dreamy narcissist who is likely to end up doing exactly what the singer fears, and yet that should be no reason for the singer not to try in the hope of it not happening. Finally, a third interpretation of the song is an old guy who has so much to offer a young women but she is not interested in him and he longs to tell her but lacks the courage to do so.
What do I think it all means? I think it means a little of all three possible interpretations, however I think that the main theme of this song is of an older man and young women who are in love but the older man longs for something more from the relationship to her it's just a fling as she has more of her life to live and is not ready to settle down. She is a bit of a narcissistic character but not consciously malevolent. He tries to argue with himself why asking her to marry him is not a good idea (too old, too selfish, not good enough, she loves her self too much) and she is rather unimpressed with the drama as she thinks she won't fall for someone else even without a ring.
There are some lovely hollow sounding woodwind instruments and chirpy swirling (like a swallow would sound if musical) synths in this piece in addition to the afore mentioned slow drums and sensational loud-quite string parts which are truly emotional, haunting and captivating. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that orchestra and composition is something Mozart would have been proud off. This track literally moved me to tears with its poetry, intelligence in lyrics and the transcendent instrumentation.
2. The Bones of You
"The Bones of You" is a faster paced track with a very catchy chorus and a driving drum beat. It enters with a fast acoustic guitar backing track. In the chorus a heavy distorted guitar enters, before the second verse kicks in with a different drum beat and shakers.
It has a very addictive and sing-along like chorus "and it's you and it's may and we're sleeping through the day, and its five years ago and 3000 years ago". At 2 minutes 35 seconds an emotional driving guitar solo kicks of that is both harsh and lush sounding before a synth choir pad section enters which is then followed by a very dirty bass guitar riff where the music gets very loud and thrashes about the most of any point in the song. I think the juxtaposition of soft sounding sections and harsh sounding sections are a metaphor for how love can tame even the fiercest of individuals.
The song is about how love can reduce even the most powerful and serious man into a babbling, gushing teenager and yet this is not a cynical song about love; far from it, it is a homage to the power of love to transform cruel and uncaring individuals into caring, empathetic, emotional individuals. Beyond what I first interpreted it's a tricky song to pin down but one person on the internet has it pegged exactly; it's a song about a man who had a past relationship and how he still pines for five years ago even though he tries to persuade himself he doesn't need love (from songmeaning.com see refs section). So in addition to how love can tame the professional or aggressive man; "So I'm there charging around with a juggernaut brow", "Stood in the street walking teenager? No" it is also about how he himself needs love. It tells us how he remembers his love from five years ago "And it's you, and it's May". In this song love is literally being compared to a favourite song; "a song I have known, and the world moves in slow mo. Like the first cigarette of the day".
By comparing it to a song we also get another understanding of the change in dynamics, force and pace of the sections, it is also his conflicting feelings and thoughts in his head fighting each other; trying to tell himself he doesn't need her but he does. This track is just another brilliant lyrical feat as it manages to speak of the personal experience of the singer as at the same time also having a more generic, universal message which the listener can relate to (the message of how even the fiercest of people need love).
Finally, a further point is that this song makes reference to religion when it has a line about smashing rosary beads, as we will find out later it's not the only track that has religious references. Interestingly the references are often catholic suggesting some of the band had a catholic upbringing and the references are apparently neutral on religion which is a nice refreshing way to include religious mentions in songs.
3. Mirror Ball
Mirror Ball, is another track which is a massively dramatic change of pace from the previous track. It starts with a very soft acoustic guitar accompaniment and a medium paced soft drum beat soon enters. The track features a soft acoustic bass guitar in the backing, some more sonorous string sections and some gentle piano notes. Again the lyrics are very poetic in nature and the strings sound very heavenly. "We made the moon our mirror ball" meaning they used the moon as the shiny ball you get in disco's. It's a very sweet sound and yet a little slow for my tastes and does not have either quite the same intrigue or thought provoking lyrics as the first song, nor the catchy sing along chorus like the second track. For these reasons it's not one my favourite tracks on the album.
4. Grounds for Divorce
This track has a driving rock and blues styles and is an up-tempo toe tapping song. It's another great track with a really pulsating vibe to it. It enters with an energetic driving drum beat and funky acoustic guitar accompaniment. It's a song about, not as one would assume divorce, a cocktail called grounds for divorce. It mentions a pub in the chorus "there's a whole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall" which is a pub in Manchester from where the band come that started out as a toilet but was converted into an indie music lounge.
It is about how the singer (the actual Guy Garvey and not a fictional protagonist) losses direction in his life after the death of a friend, which the album tells us in the back sleeve, is dedicated to a guy called Brian whom elbow personally. "I will bring you further roses but it does you know good and it does me no good. And it does me no good". Is both a literal references to the roses he brings to his friends graves and how it can't bring him back and help him, and it's not helping himself heal either. The second literal reference in this line is possibly to glasses of roses he buys his friends in the bar to drink to their sorrows in losing their much love friend. "Someday we will be drinking with the seldom seen kid" is a reference to how one day they will be underground too, when they die he hopes he will see his friend again in some sort of afterlife.
The chorus line "there's a hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall" is as well as being the previously mentioned allusion to a bar the band used to drink at is also both a reference to how there is a hole in the community and their band after the death of their friend and also how they themselves will one day be in the ground. Its Morbid yet is very catchy with a karaoke-friendly chorus.
The rocking guitar riff at 1 minute 41 seconds is very funky and is accompanied by deep, pounding bass guitar backing riffs. This track is really pounding and heavy but very musical and groovy at the same time.
Rating : 8/10
5. An audience with the pope
Is a slow track with a sort of Parisian feel to it, which is backed by a descending guitar riff and a tinny, thin sounding piano sound the same pattern. It enters with a Venetian harp effect strumming up and down a scale, which makes constant interludes in periodic intervals in the song. There is a deep bass in this song, a slightly slower tempo than the last track but faster than track 3. There is some nice, haunting, eerie synth choir pads in this song and at 3 minutes 6 seconds a pentatonic blues guitar riff plays which is very slow before a guitar riff plays the same melody of the chorus. It has a laid back vibe to this track, yet is never boring due to the nice backing track, interesting lyrics and melodious vocal melodies of Guy Garvey.
The chorus is incredibly catchy and yet very profound and majestically poetic, rarely have I heard such a catchy chorus being so poetic and yet memorable at the same time. Guy Garvey sings; "I have an audience with the pope and I'm saving the world at eight but if she says she needs me, if she says she needs me, then everybody's going to have to wait" which means he'd put her before saving the world and meeting the most important political and religious leaders because she is the most important thing in his universe. It is very much about a temptress who tempts him to commit sexual acts "and the things she's asked me to do will make the most senior saint forget his name". "She turns the minutes into hours and hours into days" means every moment she is with him time goes slower because he is totally content and every minute she is away seems far longer as he can't bear to be separate from her side.
A good track with a memorable chorus that I sing along to, again quite poetic but something missing for me in this track, possibly because there are less lyrics in this song and the chorus only is sung a few times relative to a lot of other songs.
6. Perfect Weather to Fly
This song enters with a lovely dream sounding piano and a crystal sounding synth key that slightly vibrates after its note is finished, a short decay sound played in the upper octaves. It starts of at a slightly slower pace which then speeds up a little when the drum beat enters, which is a soft yet driving, deep beat. A high male vocal which sings some words is used as a sort of additional instrument and this sounds very much like a choir singing "ah" even though the voice is actually singing meaningful lyrics. It sounds very mellifluous and euphonic. The vocals of Guy Garvey in this song are just divine, his singing in all his tracks is somewhat sweet sounding but in this track it is so relaxing and yet I sing along to it as it is not in any way dragging on.
The song is about both how the band formed "we had the drive and time on our hands. One little room and the biggest of plans" and asking the listener are they happy with their life. It is also a song about how they wanted to do things differently from other bands and not be in the mainstream and dictated to by record companies into making "cheap" music. This is seen in the line prior to the chorus and in the chorus. "we decided instead we should pull out the thread that was stitching into this tapestry vile, why wouldn't you try, perfect weather to fly". I love simple chorus "why wouldn't you try, perfect weather to fly", which is asking the audience to look at their lives and if it's not going how they would like attempt to change it, the time is now because if you look for the perfect time you will be looking for ever, for ever procrastinating.
I love the trumpet section that plays us out at the end, the shakers and the crystal sounding electronic piano like keys. It's just a really nice try that works well without being overblown or extravagant.
7. The Loneliness of a Crane Driver
"The Loneliness of a crane driver" is a powerful song in terms of arrangement, instrumentation and vocal singing. These elements transform one of the lyrically weaker tracks into one of the top tracks of this album. It enters with a slow delayed, reverbed guitar and soft bass; it has gentle strings at the start of the track and a moving drum beat that is full of energy. At 1 minute 50 or so a soft interlude enters with a gentle electric guitar piece and smooth synth pad section which is very mellow, before the same rhythm and backing track as before enters but this time with a slightly more deep, distorted bass, and ever so subtly louder strings. The song winds itself up like a crane (analogous almost to the songs titles) before long we have a massive crescendo and cacophony of sound with stirring strings and synth pads, guitar wails and emotive, tuneful vocal whining.
The music itself is very meaningful and emotional but the lyrics aren't quite as effective.
I'd say the song is about a man, who feels lonely and isolated and sees a crane driver and wonders if they feel the same, and he can't bring himself to say a prayer to god so asks the crane driver to do so for him (he prays to the crane driver that he will send a prayer to god for him, because he does not have the faith in a god, that allows him to do so of his own accord).
8. The Fix
The song enters with a walking bassline that is very prominent in the mix and a sort of synth organ that sounds very wobbly and tremolo effected. It also features a few whistle like sine wave based synth notes and after the chorus there is a sort of wah wah guitar that sounds a little bit like the effect Gorillaz use in a lot of their tracks. There is also the sort of "wah wah" effect from the harmonica that you here in "the good and the bad and the ugly" it's a very blues based track with hints of jazz, it feels very much like it would be appropriate in a smoky cocktail bar, or jazz lounge. At 3 minutes 30 or so a guitar solo layered in reverb plays a very laid back riff, the whole track is played at a slightly faster than walking pace but not as fast as your average track.
The song is quite simple lyrically; it refers to fixing a horse race, nothing more. I found the track a little one dimensional compared to some of Elbows tracks and not quite as interesting. It lacked the strings that made some tracks so great and the interesting lyrics that really captivate the listener, the lyrics where still interesting but seemed to be repeating the same theme and did not need multiple interpretations.
9. Some Riot
The song starts with quiet deep strings, quite ghost cymbal hits, and a beautiful broken chord piano accompaniment, as well as a sparkly, watery sounding synth tone in the musical background.
It's a song about a drunk who keeps drinking destroying himself "the booze turns a tall gentle boy into a terrible totem", is a reference to how drinking can change a gentle natured person into a violent, dangerous and detestable thug.
At 3.40 there is a lovely string piece playing in the background, sparkly dream piano keys smothered in reverb and a lovely vocal backing "ooh" track which acts like the main instrument and sounds very symphonic and mellifluous, we here a quite clean electric guitar piece at this point with a slightly bluesy tone playing a few quite notes towards the back end of the song. Overall it's an ok track but a weaker one of the album.
10. One Day like This
It enters with a slow violin peace, playing a beautiful, gentle, memorable melody that goes someway to making the track as the song develops. There is a gentle acoustic riff in the background, a soft deep kick playing a held back rhythm. I love the violin stabs at (pianoforte) at 1minute 25. The violin riff at the start reappears at about 1minute 50 in a higher octave and with more presence and brightness, and it sounds ever so sweet and symphonic. The music is beautiful and the songs lyric are beautiful. The tone of the song on its own brings hope and majesty to the listener, it's majestically transcendent and speaks to the soul, all of which is further emphasised by the clever and emotive lyrics and vocals from Guy Garvey.
The song is about a person who thought they would never find or experience love, who did not understand it because they had never experienced it that suddenly experiences it and it changes their whole outlook on life; it makes them appreciate the beauty of the world and almost gives them a sense of the unreality of reality. It seems to bring them close to faith in a god or if not god, in humanity and life itself.
The use of metaphors in this brilliantly poetic yet catchy track is astounding one such being the very first line: "Drinking in the morning sun". You can't literally drink the sun he's comparing the sun to a fine wine, he's savouring the rays of the sun like how you would with said fine wines. The next lines "what made me behave that way? Using words I never say. I can only think it must be love" refer to how he is whispering niceties and nothings that he would not normally use in his more cynical and clinical everyday life. Finally, the last line of the section says "oh anyway, it's looking like a beautiful day" which is both a literal statement of the hope he feels in his life, about his rebirth as a person into optimism and contentment, and a reference to the similarly beautiful and orchestral brilliance of the U2 track "beautiful day", which in my opinion this track surpasses and then humiliates!
There are references to fatality and possibly religion in this song, "Kiss me like a final meal. Kiss me like we die tonight" which is a description of how intense love is and how he wants to stay in the moment because the moment is so beautiful and soul touching. It also may hint at the final meal Jesus had with his disciples prior to his crucifixion (given the frequent use of the odd religious line in their songs this is not too much of a stab in the dark) and how he wants to cherish this time when one or other of them is dead and gone because he knows their love can't last for ever (people die) but he is focusing on the beauty of the here and now not on the tragedy that is to come, as comes to us all.
I love the anthemic, euphoric vocals Guy Garvey screams in the chorus, in a tuneful, emotive, melodious way, which are backed up with similarly profound and yet easy lyrics; "cause holy cow I love your eyes, only now I see the light" is a reference to how before he met her he was clouded in darkness and directionless and she has acted as his compass, she has given direction. It also means he has understood faith --In many religions coming to an appreciation of the divine, or of the self, is referred to as "seeing the light"-- either in the beauty and perplexing nature of life and love, or possibly in both that and in a source of external creation from whence evolution came. In the final stanza he sings about how when he is old he still wants her to be with him; "When my face is chamois-creased. Yeah, kiss me when my lips are thin".
Towards the end of the song a different section enters with vocal choirs, soft electric guitar riffs (played in jazz type settings on the guitar) and a varied vocal arrangement, all of which is backed up by more luscious strings and some pianos too. Guy Garvey sings a simple line "throw those curtains wide, one day like this year would see me right", which means that all the other days of hardship, woe and feelings of doubt (both self and in the external world) would be erased by one day of being with her, and the elation and completeness which it brings. As the final section builds we first have a single choir and a tense building staccato string section, before a second choir enters and the drums gradually get lowered, a slow bass string section enters. Then Guy Garvey sings the earlier chorus whilst the other choirs sing "throw those curtains wide". Finally, the soft electric guitar described enters. It's just a great crescendo of sound, to which the whole song expertly builds towards. This is music that will stand the test of time and generational barriers, and it's not every day an artist releases such. I have run out of superlatives to describe the beauty and hope infused in this song which is also tinged with sadness.
11. Friend of ours
Is a downbeat, somber affair with a gentle meandering bass line and slow down trodden vocals, there are however some more stirring strings in this piece which are majestic and divine sounding. It has very short lyrics, it's a song about their departed mate named only on the album sleeve as "Brian". Toward the mid-section some dreamy, sparkly piano sounds enter, playing a sort of waterfall/oriental melody. It's a bit of a damp squib in comparison to the last track, then again most tracks would be, it does give a more somber ending to the album but is actually quite a good track if we ignore the quality of the previous song. Overall it's a thoroughly decent track with nice strings and keys but weaker lyrics and a lack of melody in the vocal singing.
12. We're Away
Is an extra track that enters after track 11 in the album, it is another slow track, this time backed by mainly a piano and a very soft drum beat which sounds tinny and muffled. It has very few lyrics and I am not to sure what they mean. It is weaker than the previous track as although it is also very sweet sounding, it's a little boring and too slow to my tastes and the instrumentation never really makes it above "nice". It could do with a little more production and rich variety of sounds; it could also do with being more up-tempo, a slightly disappointing end to a great album
~~~ Cost ~~~
I paid seven pounds for it in HMV which I find exceptional value for such a masterpiece. It is available online from amazon for a fiver, which is great value for a cd which sounds better at loud volumes than mp3 recordings and has the pretty artwork and lyrics, you don't get that with a digital file!
~~~ Would I recommend ~~~
Yes, it has that one world class song in "One day like this" however this album is a rich collection of luscious instrumentation, quirky lyrics and dulcet singing. Tracks meander in a relaxing manner in places, in other places they sound dark and broody, and still further areas delight and enchant you. Yes, the uplifting, heavenly "One day like" is the center piece of the album but the extensive variety of timbres, styles, tempos and moods evoked in this album mean it is far more than just a one trick pony; indeed this album covers every sort of emotion humans go through and one may perceive the whole album to be a musical metaphor for the range of feelings we all experience as part of the human condition. I rate this 5.5 Dooyoo stars!
--What you get--
10 tracks of musical genius, beautiful lyrics and the soaring vocals of Guy Garvey.
--Value for money--
I would recommend that anyone buy this album. I originally bought it quite soon after it came out.
This album won the Mercury Prize for the album of the year and this was the album that made Elbow international superstars. They have many other albums including "Asleep in the back" & "Cast of thousands" with a slightly different musical style that did not appeal so widely to the mass market.
--My personal opinion--
An all round brilliant album, with much loved tracks complete with thoughtful song writing and musical accumen. I recently saw Elbow live at Jodrell Bank, and these tracks were even better in reality.
Starlings: A true romantic song. A favourite of my boyfriend's. Gorgeous lyrics.
The Bones of You: One of their louder ones, I really enjoy listening to this while driving.
Mirrorball: I can really identify with these lyrics at the moment, so consequently this is a song I've been listening to a fair bit. Stunning live.
Grounds for Divorce: The most fast paced song in Elbow's discography. Great song to wake up to on the radio or for being angry to.
An Audience With The Pope: Has quite a mysterious sound to it. I like this one.
Weather to Fly: Beautiful song, always been a favourite - at the concert at Jodrell Bank this was slightly ironic considering the awful weather! A lot of fun :)
The Loneliness of A Tower Crane Driver: A thoughtful song lamenting the loneliness of a tower crane driver.
The Fix: Interesting musically, I love the instruments used though I'm not sure what they are, and the repetition.
Some Riot: This is my heartbreak song, it reminds me of when my love moved to the other side of the world! But I can now listen to it without crying!! Good song.
One Day Like This: The most upbeat song ever! Absolutely love this, it was a brilliant finale to the concert to complete with a fireworks display in the pouring rain.
Friends of Ours: A quieter one!
We're Away: Somewhat melancholy, but a great finish to a fantastic album.
Summary: If you are looking for some new music to listen to and have never heard of Elbow, give this a listen first!
I'd never heard of Elbow until I went to see U2 at the Sheffield Arena last year and Elbow were supporting...
Now my usual type of music ranges from Frank Sinatra to Funky House but I've never really been an Indie Rock girl... I only went to U2 as my boyfriend really wanted to go and I'm really glad I did..
After seeiing Elbow lift the crowd (as it had been raining) and gearing us up for U2 we decided to buy this album... Don't be put off by the first song being a little slow though... it gets better and better... having said that my favourite has to be track 4 which is Grounds for Divorce... the songs themselves range from slow and melancholy to more upbeat (such as Grounds for Divorce). It's the kind of album you can either have as background music or you can have full blast....
The lead singer has quite a soulful voice in my opinion and does remind me a little bit of Bono but not as gravely....
We have had this album for quite a few months now and I am constantly nabbing this from my boyfriends car without him noticing as we both thoroughly enjoy listening to it.... and now we hear their songs in adverts quite a bit too! I just wished we had discovered them earlier
I have had this album on my i-pod for ages but had only recently had chance to really listen it - how i wish I'd discovered it earlier!!
What a fantastic album! It- has all the combinations I like from an album - some really great anthem style tracks and then some slow melodic, and great lyrical tracks.
The high point of the album for me is the 4th track - grounds for divorce the amazing guitar riff has been heard recently on the BBC TV show Blood, sweat and luxuries. This track just makes me want to sing at the top of my voice and turn the stereo up to max.
The strength of the lyrics on one day like this is fantastic. Many may be aware of this track from the Peter Kay Children in need single. This is also very anthemic.
This is elbows fourth album and each time they just get better and better - its no wonder this won the mercury music prize. If you don't own this album - you should and its only 3.99 on play.com at the moment
Bones Of You
Grounds For Divorce
Audience With The Pope
Weather To Fly
Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver
One Day Like This
Friend Of Ours
Elbow have finally come to prominence after spending several years on the sidelines, becoming known to many with their cracking album "The Seldom Seen Kid", a moody and atmospheric album that shows a growth in the band, while keeping true to their roots at the same time.
The album is very serene and rarely very frenetic at all; it takes its time with the songs, which will infuriate casual listeners but please those who are fans of the band or who like "easy listening". That said, it isn't all sweetness and light, though, and the ballad Mirrorball has plenty of soothing, almost haunting violin work that encompasses so many different feelings and emotions at once. After that, we get Grounds for Divorce, a fine blues-esque tune that reminds me a bit of some of Guns 'N Roses stuff.
The Fix is the most jarring track on the album, telling a very idiosyncratic tale over an odd soundscape that is uncharacteristic of the band. Nevertheless, it's an experiment that works, and this is true of a lot of the album: it is a different take on the band, a lot better produced but also tonally different, which purists will be split on.
This is an ethereal album that's got plenty of "chill out" tunes while also being thoughtful and intellectually engaging at the same time. The instruments are breezy, changing between pop-like and melancholic, and the vocals and lyrics are truly wonderful. I am not a fan of typical overhyped chart music, but Elbow prove that, perhaps through their years of commercial snubbing, popular music doesn't always have to be homogenised and adhering to the status quo. This is a brave, bold and beautiful attempt by the lads.
The Seldom Seen Kid is one of the greatest albums of recent times. The album really takes you on a journey and it is wonderfully melodic and enchanting.
Elbow are a band that have been around for what feels like forever but this is the album that catapulted them to stardom in 2008.
Elbow are described as and Alternative Rock band (Play.com describes them as Epic post-rock tinged emotional indie stalwarts... not sure what that means but I like the sound of it! Haha) and they were formed in 1997, this is when they became Elbow anyway, some members of the band have played together is some form since 1990 though. It has been a long slog but they always knew they would "break-through" eventually.
To see how great this album really is, just look at the list of awards it has picked up along the way... It has won Brit Awards, the Ivor Novello award, the Mercury Music Prize, the South Bank Show Pop award, an NME award, and a song on the album was voted the Mojo Magazine Song of the Year 2009! Elbow, welcome to the big time!
The Seldom Seen Kid is Elbows 4th studio album but like I've said, not many people have heard the first 3! I had heard a bit of Elbow in around 2005 but nothing much, then this album came along and blew me away!
The lead singer, Guy Garvey has the most incredible voice. It is gruff but soft at the same time, and is accent is beautifully northern. I'm fed up with hearing "southern" bands all the time and it's great to hear something from my neck of the woods... well, from across the pennies in Manchester, but it's still the north!
The Seldom Seen Kid starts of with a rhapsody of noise then flows into the 1st song STARLINGS. A great opener to a great album. The Trumpets keep blasting as if love seems to be happening all at once, after a few blasts Guys voice utters in the song with amazingly captivating lyrics.
The lyrics are great in every song. The next song THE BONES OF YOU is no exception to this rule. MIRRORBALL is song number 3 and features some wonderfully enchanting piano work.
This brings me on to song 4, possibly my favourite song on the album, GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE. This really is a great stadium anthem and the chorus and guitars resonate out of my speakers... I can't help but play this song loud!
AN AUDIENCE WITH THE POPE and WEATHER TO FLY are up next and both of them are so so close to being my favourite. The lyrics in Audience With The Pope are fantastic and Guys voice is filled with emotion. The way that Weather To Fly is structured is amazing and once again, you will be sucked in by Guys stunning lyrics.
Song 7 is THE LONELINESS OF A TOWER CRANE DRIVER which features a great drum beat and very uplifting chorus. Another great track.
THE FIX is a great little song that seems to tell a story, very enchanting.
Next up we have SOME RIOT that is a very slow and moving song with some great instrument work
The final two songs of The Seldom Seen Kid are ON A DAY LIKE THIS and FRIEND OF OURS. Friend of Ours is a very slow song to round out the album and On A Day Like This is another wonderful stadium anthem!
"So throw those curtains wide, One day like this a year would see me right!"
That concludes the run through of the best album of 2008! If you haven't heard it yet... don't delay and buy it today! Play.com are selling it for £5, at that price you can't go wrong! The Seldom Seen Kid really takes you to another place! A wonderful, magical place of peace and joy! Cheesy I know, but I just love this album, it is just so uplifting!
Elbow have been around a lot longer than you may think! In fact, you might never have heard of this band before, in which case I'd urge you to read this review, and then go buy the CD!
Elbow are a 5 member band from Bury, they first got started in 1990, nearly 20 years ago! They are Guy Garvey on lead vocal and guitar, Pete Turner on bass, Mark Potter on guitar, Craig Potter on keyboard, and Richard Jupp on drums.
Their music is described as alternative rock, indie, britpop, and probably more. None of which actually describes how they sound! They have released 4 albums, the latest and most well-known being The Seldom Seen Kid. They won the Mercury Music Prize for this album in 2008.
If you have listened to any of Elbow's earlier albums, you will know that you get some very different sounds throughout each one, and this is no different. Not as 'classic rock' as some of the other albums, The Seldom Seen Kid is, at very frequent times, haunting, passionate and mature.
The first song on this album, Starlings, starts slow and quiet, soon blaring brass at your eardrums in a series of spine-tingling blasts heralding Guy Garvey's wonderful, distinctive voice. The song itself is mellow, building to a crescendo to the lyrics "and I'm spinning and I'm diving like a cloud of starlings" - breathtaking.
The Bones of You is a more up-tempo number, very rythmic and again relying on Guy's fantastic voice. Then on to Mirrorball, my favourite song on the album. It's an almost twinkling, melodic tune about love - absolutely beautiful to listen to.
Grounds for Divorce is one of the more well-known songs from this album and has been used on numerous TV program trailers. Very much classic rock and foot-stamping, but with an almost country-sounding base riff through the verses, and a banging chorus.
An Audience With The Pope mellows out the album once more, and I really like the sound of this song although it never gets played live. Weather to Fly is a real feel-good summery song, with Guy doing an amazing job on all the high notes with that distinctive yet not overpowering voice of his.
The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver definitely has a melancholy feel to it, and indeed in live performances Elbow dedicate this song to their friend who tragically died.
The Fix is a bit of an odd-ball in this album. Featuring Richard Hawley, it is a jaunty sounding song about fixing horse races. Not the best track on the album for sure, but Richard and Guy's vocals mix well together, and the word-play and inner rhymes in this song are entertaining enough.
Some Riot is another melancholy song which never fails to bring a tear to my eye. And then One Day Like This delivers outstanding orchestral music and really lifts the spirits. This song is a definite summer festival-winner, sure to get you smiling and clapping.
Finally, Friend of Ours, a very slow and sad song filled with emotionally-charged lyrics really rounds off this amazing album. Full of poignancy and emotional, it's clear that Elbow poured a lot of effort into this album and it really paid off. I guarantee that even if you're not a fan of this genre, there WILL be at least one song on here that you enjoy.
The album is well-balanced yet never fails to send goosebumps over my skin, and is really best listened to in its entirety. Not sure I've ever said that about any album before!
It really does contain some beautiful melodies, lyrics and singing. It's not often that it really feels like you are listening to a piece of someone's soul (if that doesn't sound too corny!).
The band also recorded another version of this album, live at Abbey Road, with the BBC Orchestra. I'd urge you to listen to that, as most of the music has been delivered fantastically with such a huge classical orchestra and choir behind them.
Elbow are also a cracking band live, mature enough to not be jumping round the stage, but really engaging and fun, especially when playing smaller venues. They have now finished touring to write their next album, and fingers crossed that it delivers just as much as The Seldom Seen Kid does.
Elbow are one of those bands that seem to have been around for years, plodding along churning out an album every couple of years, achieving critical acclaim from seemingly everyone yet their sales seem modest and the term 'cult' has never been more apparent. I have personally been a fan of the band since their first album 'Asleep in the back' but must admit that despite owning all their material I have found that I tend to really have strong affections with certain tracks and not always whole albums.
Known for their evocative lyrics and working class like style Elbow have been around since the late 90s and this, 'The Seldom Seen Kid' is their forth long player. Dedicated and based in many placed to close friend Brian Glancy (The seldom seen kid) this album is arguably the Manchester five pieces best work yet. Here is my review of each track: -
This is the very style that Elbow are famous for, but often there are songs that I feel just go a little bit too much the other way. I thought this could be the case for this album, judging by this opener, which struggles to pick up speed despite various gusts of orchestral noises throughout the track. Slow but steady start '''7/10'''
BONES OF YOU
This is more like it, gentle but uplifting acoustic guitars alongside simple drums before the track really kicks in with a thumping bass and the inevitable breathy vocals of Guy Garvey. In fact as the track reaches half way there is an influx of almost thrash like guitar solos as well as several backing vocal tracks that add substance and give an extension to the existing Elbow sound. Guy sings lines like "and I cant move my arm for fear that you will wake" as you begin to appreciate this song as a standout '''9/10'''
A return back to the downbeat style (well couldn't expect a full albums worth of the previous track could we?) yet this gives much more than starlings with a delicate chorus coupled with strings "and we made the moon our mirrorball, the streets an empty stage" illustrates that all the previous Elbow qualities are in here and more. Impressive '''9/10'''
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
Lead single, and arguably one of their best ever. Fantastic country style guitar riff, which holds the track together alongside Guys, once more, incredible lyrics and vocals. The song is something I never thought I would hear from Elbow, very direct yet still sticking to their strengths. A reference to the album title is heard in the first line "Monday is for drinking to the seldom seen kid" '''10/10'''
AN AUDIENCE WITH THE POPE
The album just gets better and better. By this point it is beginning to form a steady flow due to the albums well thought out track listing. "I have an audience with the pope and Im saving the world at eight" is sung to do justice to Guy's poetic-like lyrics. The guitars in the song are fairly minimal, only played as background to Guy as the focal point. This track is another accessible track that feature heavily on the album though its not the sound of selling out, far from it. Just the sound of a band finding some consistency with their sound and writing '''9/10'''
WEATHER TO FLY
Simple piano and Guy hitting the high notes gently in the minute before the track gathers pace. It starts as if it is going to be a downcast one from the past but it breaks into life and becomes another strong track from this, fast becoming, great album. The vocals at the start of "are we having the time of our lives" is looped over and over to give a great sound of guys vocals lapsing over one another. The song also features a crescendo of brass at the end, and the realisation of another triumph '''9/10'''
THE LONLINESS OF A TOWER CRANE DRIVE
Typical Elbow-esque title and the track pans out how you would imagine, the inevitable melancholy shinning through. The track begins with slow drums alongside the tale of the tower crane driver, who is obviously lonely with occasional choruses that almost stop the music completely as it breaks down. The highlight is towards the end of the song where Guys vocals just go through the roof with regards to passion and commitment. The album is obviously very personal and this comes through almost every track '''8/10'''
As far as I am aware this is the first duet Elbow have ever done, though Guy has produced a couple of I am Kloot albums. This one is done with Sheffield singer songwriter legend Richard Hawley who lends vocals, guitars and writing credits singing alongside an effective keyboard backing track. The duet works well and is a good match of styles and vocals '''8/10'''
This was one that initially didn't grab me but now has grown to become one of my favourites. Of their mellow sound this is all the best bits rolled into one. Starting with a near minute of piano playing, almost with little purpose like a jam to becoming a piano chord sequence looping over to accommodate Guy's vocals. "and its breaking my heart to pour like the rain_" is the cry, again from Guys passionate vocals. Its one of those tracks that you can imagine mid set in a live setting would be one of the standout songs due to the intensity of the way it has been written '''9/10'''
ONE DAY LIKE THIS
This song is the lead single for the U.S and although 'Grounds for Divorce' is fantastic this could have easily been the one over here in the UK. Soaked in strings, this is arguably the most uplifting thing Elbow has ever released. Although tucked away towards the end of the album it is worth the wait. The track builds up and up, both musically and then the vocals and backing vocals from the Elbow Choir (as written in the cover) singing "throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year would see me right"; emphasising the brightness of the sound. By the end your left thinking the reason it isn't at the start of the album is because anything that follows would undoubtedly be a disappointment. '''10/10'''
FRIEND OF OURS
It's fitting that the album should officially end with the most obvious tribute to their friend Bryan. Few lyrics but all fitting such as "never very good at goodbyes" you get the picture of this emotional send off. Not one of the strongest on the album but few could argue of its conclusion and message '''7/10'''
Exclusive bonus track carries on where 'Friend of Ours' left off, more in the style of the early Elbow. Again, not one of the stronger ones, in fact a bit of a damp squid to end what for me is a highly enjoyable album '''6/10'''
The album has some of their best work on it. Not renowned for their blazing guitar riffs 'Grounds for Divorce' has to be one of the singles of the year as it encapsulates everything fantastic about the band whilst demonstrating a new dimension. In reference to consistency I think this is their best yet as there are few songs where you are reaching for the I-Pod/CD player/Remote to skip tracks and in actual fact as an album it flows really well and each track is clearly carefully thought out for the listener.
The album cover and inlay include the lyrics, hence my small quotes from, which few bands still do (the ones I buy anyway) and a run down of all the musical input. The whole package is here and makes you feel bit better that you have been bothered to buy it than download.
Little to criticise other than one or two tracks are slightly poorer than others. Part of that is because the tracks that are good would make anyone else sound pretty useless though a couple on here are weak links but that shouldn't put anyone off.
Now the hype has died down somewhat I would expect this can be picked up for around £5 from most online retailers. I think I saw it in HMV the other week in store for £3.99 though i could be mistaken. Anything less than £10 I think represents good value for money
**INDIVIDUAL TRACKS TO LISTEN TO
For those who aren't convinced the single 'Grounds for Divorce' and 'One day like this' are the standouts here and are worth downloading as a taster to see if you would like the rest of the album. For their early material tracks such as 'Red', 'Powder Blue', 'Fallen Angel' and 'Fugitive Motel' are all well worth searching for on i-tunes or even for free via music videos on Youtube.
Though a concept album about a friend and from a band known for being on the more miserable side, you would be right in thinking the album would shape up to be a 'same old, same old'; far from it! The album is uplifting in many places and represents their best work yet. NME have given them an impressive 9/10 for now each of their four albums but for me this by far surpasses certainly the previous album, which for me represented a run out of ideas. If anyone has not got anything by Elbow then this is probably a good album to start a collection.
Since its release it went onto to win the Mercury Music Prize for 2008 and they are well worthy winners after over 15 years of being a band together. They fully deserve their successes. Produced by themselves perhaps this album was always going to represent the real Elbow. If that's the case then roll on album number five!
Elbows fifth album and arguably their best yet! Mercury prize winning, Ivor novella award winning yet only 3 reviews? I can't let this pass.
If you think you have never heard Elbow, then you are probably wrong, songs from this album are being used in almost every programme on British TV at the moment, but this is not a bad thing. The blend of orchestral music in a modern pop song gives the music an ethereal feeling, and with Guy Garveys gravely, melancholic northern voice singing over the top most people will find it hard not to fall in love with this great band. I know I did.
Guy Garvey - vocals, string and brass arrangements
Mark Potter - guitars
Craig Potter - keyboards, trumpet
Pete Turner - bass
Richard Jupp - drums
This album should be at the top of every ones wish lists if they do not already own a copy, and I am sure anyone hearing it would instantly want a copy.
I can not believe that there are only two reviews of this album so far on dooooyoo! It is without doubt one of the top five albums of 2008 and is the album that Elbow have been threatening to produce ever since they burst onto the scene. The Seldom Seen Kid is Elbow's fifth album and it finally distances them from the other bands that they have previosuly been lumped in with -Coldplay, Keane, Glasvegas- as this album slows things down and take Elbow on a different road than they have previosuly been down.
An absorbing, richly textured record that ricocheted between light and shade, the bone-rattling riffs of Grounds For Divorce sitting alongside Weather To Fly's drifting elegance. Grounds for Divorce is the stand out track on the album, it is even different from the rest of the album. The lyrics truly stand out on all of the album. It burnt as slowly as its predecessors but, ultimately, that bit brighter as there are more songs to love than on previous albums.
The album works as whole - beginning with an eruptive blast of noise and ending with the gentle farewell that is "Friend Of Ours". In between, Elbow explore life's big questions, and the emptiness that can lie at the heart of an outwardly successful life.
Elbow are a supremely talented band that are taking its sound in a more adventourous direction than its contemporaries. Sometimes the Mercury Music Prize can be something of an albatros around the neck (see Gomez), but I for one am hopeful that Elbow will prosper and flourish after winning that particular gong.
The Seldom Seen Kid title is a nod to the death of their friend, Manchester singer-songwriter Bryan Glancy. Lead singer Guy Garvey's voice is what most distinguishes Elbow, its sweet and scruffy soulfulness projecting real empathy and lyrical wit.
I must confess that I was probably like everyone else before this album - knew who Elbow were, liked a cuple of their songs, but did not fall in love with them. Well, they have swept me off my feet with this release.
Elbow are a five-piece Manchester based group that have subtly beena round for well over a decade in a very cult fashion, submitting their work in the form of a number of albums every couple of years or so. Their 2008 album, The Seldom Seen Kid is, I confess, the first album of theirs I have listened to, but having heard it, it won't be the last. I have been aware of the existence of Elbow, and I do recognise some of their music, but wouldn't have put their name to the track, if you see what I mean, until now.
The Seldom Seen Kid is an album that my wife borrowed off one of her colleagues. I initially turned my nose up at it before she asked me to play it while we were relaxing one evening. I reluctantly agreed, and put it on. I was instantly surprised by the intrigue I felt towards Starlings when it first came on, but my interest for this first track waned after a couple of harsher notes emanated at great volume during the track - not for me!
However, I stuck it out, and was taken aback by the melodic and relaxing The Bones Of You, which I now can't get out of my head. A phenomenal track that is lyrically deft and musically like a sponge. And so, the rest of the album continued in much the same vein. Grounds For Divorce I recognised immediately as one of their commercial tracks, and the majority oif the rest of the album I found to be very soothing indeed.
There were a couple of tracks that didn't seem to live up to the quality of the others, but ultimately, the whole album is worth a listen to. Lyrically, the band are very blessed, and I particualrly liked the lyrics in The Fix, and the final track on the album, We're Away. If you're looking for an album to relax you with a nice glass of wine one evening, accompanied by a good book, then this is just about perfect (apart from Starlings!). However, if you need something to help keep you awake on a long car journey, then perhaps this isn't the right album.
The Seldom Seen Kid features clever and moving melodies and lyrics, and showcases the Manchester group's talents in a very clever fashion. I can now understand fully their cult status, and also understand why their success has been relatively quiet on the more commercial scene of the charts, for example. I found the album very enjoyable indeed, and can't wait to get hold of another of their pieces of work. I highly recommend getting this album. It is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £4.97 - a bargain!
2 The Bones Of You
4 Grounds For Divorce
5 An Audience With The Pope
6 Weather To Fly
7 The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver
8 The Fix
9 Some Riot
10 One Day Like This
11 Friend Of Ours
12 We're Away
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 The Bones Of You
4 Grounds For Divorce
5 An Audience With The Pope
6 Weather To Fly
7 The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
8 The Fix - Elbow, Richard Hawley
9 Some Riot
10 One Day Like This
11 Friend Of Ours
12 We're Away