Some people tend to see Elbow as just a watered-down Coldplay. I’ve always resented this notion, due to the more atmospheric nature of Elbow’s music and the fact that Elbow has been doing what they have been doing a while longer than Chris Martin and company. On their Mercury Prize-nominated Asleep in the Back, they were able to convince music nerds that the age of post-Britpop had arrived. And now, inspired by the demise of leadership in the world, the Manchester boys are back on the appropriately titled Leaders of the Free World.
“Station Approach” sets in more gently than the fog over a lake in the morning with singer Guy Garvey’s logotype emotive crooning while he makes gentle use of the British term “sod” alongside Craig Potter’s phosphorescent piano. But it doesn’t truly make it’s presence known until Richard Jupp’s booming drums set in. “Picky Bastard” contains a continuation in the flow, which is rather sneaky before it adheres to a downright soothing demeanor. “Forgot Myself” is nourished by a serrated clip-clop trot as Pete Turner’s basslines slide in and out of the rhythm. Leaders of the Free World is interesting enough, seeing to it that most of the tracks start off with a vibe that the listener gets used to before just switching its entire ebb and flow.
“The Stops” taxis the runway with a mixture of acoustic guitar and Garvey’s voice, full of doleful beauty with all the makings of a Nick Drake track in the verses before morphing into sort of orchestral pop harmonies in the chorus, reminiscent of Spiritualized. “Mexican Standoff” whirls its way into a chilling psychedelic tundra as “Great Expectations” is a hauntingly beautiful crescendo.
Another thing that should be noted is that Elbow is somewhat more experimental in their approach on this album and it feels good. They don’t seem as cagey yet they shine brightly on with a style that hopefully will be embraced on more of their future releases.
South – From Here On In
Doves – The Last Broadcast
Radiohead – The Bends