I’ve said it before, rarely have I recommended a band as much as Elbow. Having discovered this band through chance, I came about their album Cast of Thousands during the summer of 2004 while working as an intern in NYC. Little did I know I’d chanced upon what would turn out to be one of my favorite bands, ever. Thing is that it’s easy to love this band but it’s equally easy to understand why it’s taken them so long to gain the respect and admiration they deserve. This is music with deep seeded influences but a true commitment to the personality of the band members. It’s not pretentious, it’s intricate, it’s beautiful and lush, but it does so by being well thought instead of in your face. Simply put, no one sounds like Elbow and it’s good that no one tries to emulate this band, because odds are it’d be a terrible idea. The nuances, subtleties and unique textures comprised by a ménage of all the instruments are anchored by an everyday guy with a golden voice who has a true knack for writing lyrics that resonate with underlying human threads that know no boundaries.
Build a Rocket Boys is the fifth album by Elbow, and it’s just as rewarding (and possibly more so) than their previous releases, which is saying quite a lot. Musically, the textures are as inventive as ever and the overall mood of the album has you careening from introspective beauty reflecting on life and smiling to wanting to build something while smiling… the key factor is that I can’t help but listen to this album without smiling. Often pegged as sappy sad kids, Elbow have done quite the job of creating music that fills you with smiley jitters. It’s not that they’ve left aside their roots or their identity, or that the album doesn’t include some quietly beautiful numbers, it’s just that at least for this outing, they’re still reaching for the stars, but doing it with a smirk on their face and three beers in their belly.
You could say that this album is celebratory and maybe it has to do with their success on their last outing – the fantastic Seldom Seen Kid, which also happened to be their breakthrough. You can actually say a lot of things, but what you can’t say is that this album isn’t ridiculously good or crafted with passion, love and talent.
Apart from a rocket, these boys are also building something many bands are taking for granted: a legacy. We just happen to be lucky enough to tag along for the ride. From the beautiful opening of The Birds, with its electronic flourishes, to the college kid’s reflection of Jesus is a Rochdale Girl, to pretty much every track on the album, Build a Rocket Boys shows a band growing and evolving in talent and scope but keeping it very real.