Elbow has never been sharper. For the past twenty years, the British five-piece have charmed music listeners with symphonic indie rock melodicism, grandiose dream pop resonance and poetic gems of wisdom. But now, the dapper quintet is really starting to soar -- not just in the United Kingdom, but in America as well.
Their fifth studio album “Build A Rocket Boys!” recently debuted at the top of the Billboard U.S. New Artists Chart. Unlike their previous LPs, however, this full-length has a certain life of its own.
“It has an air of confidence about it,” keyboardist Craig Potter says. “Every album we ever written, there was a bit of doubt in the back of our minds. Some of the tracks on there are so soft and [have] delicate arrangements; almost what we always wanted to do and I think we felt a bit confident.”
Build a Rocket Boys
That confidence beams through the entire 11-track collection. “Build A Rocket Boys” is a deep offering where soothing, rich euphonies set a piercing backdrop for vocalist Guy Garvey’s beautifully poetic lyrics to take center stage. The music, which is simply mesmerizing, constantly touches the soul -- especially on delights like “Lippy Kids” and “The River.” Also, the troupe crafts a couple of commanding, heartwarming smashes like the single “Neat Little Rows” and “Open Arms.”
Really, it’s a magnificent effort with an equally magnificent theme. “Our albums have always been what we call ‘growers,’ and I think this one is more than most,” Potter explains. “The blueprint came from ‘Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl,’ which is probably the first song looking back on youth, so that became the blueprint of the album and we went into that direction. A lot of the songs are about looking back, childhood and new friends in the same home. It’s quite a growing up album in that way.”
Formed in 1990, Elbow spent the next eight years developing a presence in Greater Manchester. In 1998, they signed with Island Records and were preparing to record their debut album. Universal, however, purchased the label and would subsequently drop the five-piece.
Despite the initial setback, Elbow persevered. The dream pop collective released a couple of EPs before signing with V2 Records. In 2001, they unveiled their official debut album “Asleep In The Back,” and followed that up with 2003’s “Cast Of Thousands” and 2005’s gold-certified “Leaders Of The Free World.”
With a proven track record, the British quintet transferred over to Fiction Records, which ironically has a major distribution deal through Universal. Then, in 2008, they released their fourth studio album “The Seldom Seen Kid” and the effort went double platinum in the United Kingdom.
Looking back, it’s quite remarkable. Most bands nowadays tend to kick a member out and switch their lineup around practically every three years. But for the mates in Elbow, they’ve been together for the past twenty years in their original form and have stood beside one another when times were rather bleak.
“I think it’s a combination of being lucky, being with friends and we’ve been through a lot to together,” Potter says. “[There have been] a lot of problems over the years since we started, but that’s brought us closer -- and we spend the money five ways because a lot bands always abuse it and [it’s] the main thing people fall out on. That’s never an issue [with us]. But other than that, it’s lucky to be on so well. It’s the whole combination.”
Upcoming Tour Dates
Elbow is about to bring that whole combination to the ‘States as well. The British five-piece has exclusively revealed to Red Bull dates for their upcoming American tour in the fall. Be sure to check them out:
- 09/18/11 - Austin City Limits, Zilker Park - Austin, TX
- 09/20/11 - Center Stage - Atlanta, GA
- 09/22/11 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
- 09/23/11 - FDR Park - Philadelphia, PA
- 09/25/11 - Terminal 5 - New York , NY
- 09/26/11 - Paradise Rock Club - Boston, MA
- 09/28/11 - Sound Academy - Toronto, ON
- 10/01/11 - The Greek Theater - Los Angeles, CA
- Guy Garvey: Vocals
- Mike Potter: Guitar
- Pete Turner: Bass
- Craig Potter: Keyboard
- Richard Jupp: Drums
For more from Bear Frazer, follow him on Twitter.