Elbow: Build a Rocket Boys!

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Elbow
Build a Rocket Boys!
(Polydor)

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“Breaking” America might not be a priority for English group Elbow, but if there’s any justice in the music industry, this will be the band’s time to shine. Their last effort, The Seldom Seen Kid, was a triumph of atmosphere and intensity that would be difficult to outshine. However, the group has only improved upon past material with Build a Rocket Boys! The songs are as intimate and reflective on youth as though frontman Guy Garvey went back to the journals of his past and improved upon childhood poetry. The overall sound is nostalgic, at times spooky but ending with the warm optimism of the future.

One of the keys to this record is the layering. Opener “The Birds” starts out with multiple vocal tracks, which then give way to plonky synth and Garvey’s swelling delivery. It’s not the sound of radio-friendly singles, and bless them for being brave enough to make a record that makes them happy. “With Love” has a catchy handclap beat and a chiming refrain from a youth choir, which actually appears on half of the tracks. “High Ideals” has quirky guitar flirt with horns and strings, and “Dear Friends” is a gentle ode to companionship that completes the journey from boy to man.

Soft and complex, Build a Rocket Boys! is literally the sound of a band maturing for the better.

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