Release Date: Mar 11, 2014
Record label: Concord
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
One of the many heart-warming Olympic moments of that glorious two weeks back in 2012 came during the closing ceremony when Guy Garvey, a man who’d look more at home propping up the bar of his local nursing a pint of bitter, strode onto stage with a huge grin on his face to conduct thousands of people singing along to Open Arms and One Day Like This. It was a moment that confirmed Elbow‘s elevation from ‘nearly-men’ to standard-bearers. Yet it was also the tipping point.
Ahead of the release of The Take Off and Landing of Everything, there’s been a lot of talk from Elbow about change. Change in circumstance for their talisman has come up a lot – the end of Guy Garvey’s long-term relationship, his time spent in New York, his imminent fortieth birthday – but thankfully this doesn’t completely overshadow his contribution to the album. NYC gets a couple of mentions, but the album doesn’t get stuck in travelogues and hotel room laments, while his other big upheavals provide themes of loss and friendship without looming too darkly over everything else.
Review Summary: The sixth Elbow album delves deep into the human condition with songs that boast plenty of personality and substance.Elbow have never been particularly interested in the idea of reinventing themselves with every new release. Instead, they've been slowly but surely tweaking their sound thriving on solid dependability in lieu of drastic stylistic shifts. On their sixth full-length The Take Off and Landing of Everything the outfit turn full circle as they continue to rekindle the art rock spirit of their excellent debut, Asleep In The Back.
You slow down as you get older, or so the saying goes. Such is the case of Elbow. The songs on their sixth studio set unfurl languidly, in delicate slow motion. Opener “This Blue World” meanders past the seven-minute marker in search of a payoff that it never quite finds. Yet, there are flashes ….
It's been 13 years since the release of Elbow's debut album, Asleep in the Back, and the Mancunian outfit's track record of understated success is long established. On its sixth studio effort, Guy Garvey and company soar to new heights, even if the vocalist experienced a bit of personal turmoil in the form of a difficult breakup during the recording process. Whatever he went through is channeled into painfully honest and even brooding lyrics that are a constant theme throughout 10 expansive, cinematic tracks.
Elbow's Guy Garvey may be a sentimentalist, but he wades into the morass of emotion aided by a startlingly clear melodic vision and articulate lyrics, refusing to outsource his earnestness to musical clichés, like swelling cellos and hooky, anthemic choruses. Not that The Take Off and Landing of Everything, the band's sixth album, is short on either cellos or choruses, but they never function as placeholders or shortcuts to emotional immediacy. Despite recording parts of the album in the middle of a breakup, Garvey takes the long way round, getting to slightly sloshed musings on love, the universe, and everything by way of “a bottle of good Irish whiskey” and local details, like his description of “the gentle lunette at the top of the nape of the neck that I wake to” in “Fly Boy Blue/Lunette.
Midlife crises have seldom been so beautifully documented than those on Elbow’s sixth studio album. Following on the heels of the artistically safe Build a Rocket Boys! and the 2012 B-sides compilation Dead in the Boot, the Mancunian quintet seem to be reassessing their songwriting approach, experimenting a bit, and tweaking their signature sound. Originally entitled All at Once, then renamed Carry Her, Carry Me, the awkwardly-titled The Take Off and Landing of Everything is seldom an album of stadium-sized, Elbow-esque sing-a-long anthems, although there are a few interspersed throughout the record’s hour-long running time.
In writing up track-by-track liner notes for his band’s new album, Elbow frontman Guy Garvey has this to say about the title song: “If love between two people has mutual respect and admiration at its foundations it will never be a regret however sad its end. ” That’s a poetically succinct summation of a lot of conflicting, messy feelings—ones that have undoubtedly been flickering through Garvey’s mind throughout the past two years. During the making of The Take Off and Landing of Everything, Garvey and his girlfriend Emma Unsworth ended their decade-long relationship.
Elbow recorded their sixth album at Real World Studios, making the connection between themselves and Peter Gabriel plain. Much of this connection comes from the husky, subdued rasp of lead singer Guy Garvey, but the band on a whole favors a similar kind of accessible art rock where the textures are lucid yet elliptical while the songs are sturdy and melodic, wearing their accouterments well. This blend helped make 2011's Build a Rocket Boys! into a sizable hit in their native Britain and throughout Europe, but The Take Off and Landing of Everything is better still, demonstrating that the band knows how to seize the spoils of success.
The post-Britpop rise of the early 2000’s was both an asset and a disadvantage for then struggling Mancunians Elbow, who were suddenly paired against a cast of thousands simultaneously trying to prove that Kid A was the worse thing to happen to commercial alternative rock. The competition was fierce, especially for those who only had a pearly chord progression and a wistful voice in their arsenal. That Elbow were the grumpy, perennial drunkards of their class gave them a slight edge, only because the dreary languor of their debut Asleep in the Back steered clear of the woeful sensitivity by the likes of Starsailor and Snow Patrol.
Here's a fact that might give you pause. It's been nearly six years since Elbow released One Day Like This, the track that catapulted them from alt-rock band of perenially middling status to something approaching national treasurehood. Perhaps it doesn't seem that long ago because One Day Like This is still omnipresent.
Recorded over a 6 week period in New York, ‘The Take Off And Landing Of Everything’, Elbow’s sixth studio album sees band member Craig Potter once again retain production duties. Opener ‘This Blue World’ is classic Elbow, a vivid kaleidoscope of images which catapults the listener into the story the dawn of creation before descending earthbound. Such reflective calm is quickly shattered by the more uptight ‘Charge’ which is tempered somewhat by a wonderful string interlude and surprising falsetto touches.
A few minutes into Elbow’s previous album, Build a Rocket Boys!, Guy Garvey’s appealing, tattered twang pleads, “Do they know those days are golden?” That boast exemplified Garvey’s ability to summon nostalgia while reflecting through his own adulthood. We’ve gotten used to this totality of Elbow’s lyrical warmth because Garvey tells stories that inspire us to acknowledge and accept the familiarity of our surroundings. He reminds us again to “go straight to the place where you first lost your balance, and find your feet with the people that you love.” And he’s done it again throughout their sixth studio album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything.
Elbow frontman Guy Garvey has been splitting his time lately between Brooklyn and his native England. Accordingly, there’s an atmosphere of perpetual suspension and too many transatlantic flights to the band’s sixth full-length The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Not that Garvey, from the album’s title on down, seems to be trying to encrypt that theme.
I once interviewed huggable indie bear and affable radio host Guy Garvey about his love of astronomy. Well, I say ‘love of astronomy’; it turned out what Guy meant by ‘astronomy’ was more ‘looking at pretty things in the sky’ than ‘knowing what any of these things are called’. At one point reception cut out, and for some reason when I called back the first question out of my mouth was, “So, have you ever tried to find the Andromeda galaxy?” A pause, and we both burst out laughing.And that’s Elbow’s shtick all over.
Charge is the go-to song on Elbow's sixth album, containing the Bury fivesome's best, and least-best, instincts. You would fully expect to find strings and piano on an Elbow track, but these can be any scoundrel's knee-jerk shortcut to gravitas. Much better are Guy Garvey's sloshed 40-nothing aperçus, playing off beautifully against a slinky organ melody.
The British quartet continues their upward flight into the sublime with the emotive lyrics and beautiful music of their sixth release, The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Over the years Elbow have polished their unique, raw and solemn rock all the while channeling the same ethereal energy on their 2001 debut Asleep in the Back. Guy Garvey’s calm, semi-raspy vocals continue to sooth listeners as his airy harmonies complement the well orchestrated music (included are horns and strings) as crafted by Pete Turner’s bass, Richard Jupp’s drums, Mark Potter’s guitar and Craig Potter’s keyboards and effects—who doubled as producer on Take Off.
Three years beyond the nostalgic somnolence of Build A Rocket Boys and things have changed. Guy Garvey is now beyond an amicable split from his partner of eight years and appears to have expanded his lyrical and geographical horizons. While the template here remains wistful and Pennine-longing, the dark greens and browns of Bury life are shot through with shards of New York City, where Garvey decamped for the post-relationship reflections that flavour this new outing.
It’s not easy packing so many different styles of music into one song — especially ones that don’t stray too far from home in terms of baseline mood — but it certainly helps when so many of them fall between the five- and seven-minute mark, as on the sixth album from British act Elbow. “Charge,” for example, hovers along the thread of their typically pensive, minimal gloom-rock, but vocalist Guy Garvey delivers his lines in a sort of hip-hop cadence before the orchestral passages transport the proceedings to theatrical despair. The organ-centric “This Blue World” goes about its time brushing the sleep from its eyes, each uneasy turn in the sheets inching slightly closer to wakefulness.
I have a strange relationship with Elbow’s music. Extensive world touring aside, there’s enough geographical overlap between my own life and Guy Garvey’s to ensure that the relatable, everyman quality of his lyrics is distorted to a cartoonish extreme. On “Grounds for Divorce”, he sings of the “hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall”; that’s the Temple on Manchester’s Oxford Street, a literal drinking hole where I’ve seen off more pints of Krombacher than I care to mention.