Release Date: March 8, 2011
Polydor Records; 11 Tracks; CD, LP
Review by: Sean McNamara
After the success of 2008's The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow return with another fantastic album that showcases the depth of their sound, as well as the talent of songwriter Guy Garvey.
Every once in a while, you pick up an album from a band you have heard good things about and it absolutely floors you. Then you find out they have other albums you didn't even know existed, and you think to yourself "Why didn't someone let me know how good this band is before this?". That was the effect Elbow had on me with their amazing 2008 album The Seldom Seen Kid. It was so good, I was a bit nervous to hear their follow up effort, for fear they would not be able to replicate it's greatness.
Build A Rocket Boys! proves to be an excellent follow up. Elbow don't try to reinvent the wheel, they keep rolling along, making a couple of small adjustments as they go.
Album opener "The Birds" features some synths rolling in the background, while Guy Garvey (vocals, guitar) sings about how "The birds are the keepers of our secrets". However, just after the 3 minute mark, Pete Turner (bass) adds in a bouncing bass line that helps the song drift through a melodic 6 minutes. Simple yet touching and lasting, it is a great example of what this band does so well. The softer, more melancholic "Lippy Kids" is a fond look back at childhood that uses an amazing chorus to assert itself as one of the highlights of this album.
If you are familiar with Elbow's past work, then "Neat Little Rows" is the "Grounds For Divorce" of this album. A bit more rough sounding than most of their songs, and featuring crashing drums and distorted guitars layered throughout, this song should be a highlight of their live show. "Open Arms" changes the album up a bit, adding a touch of electro to the mix and an almost dance based rhythm, it's massive sing-along chorus assures it will be an instant favourite. "High Ideas" bounces along with a tight groove wrapped around some piano keys, and adds a very welcome touch of fun to the album.
There are a couple of points where the album gets a tiny bit lost in it's own melancholy, and the overly catchy "With Love" has a weird chanting of those very words in the chorus that just doesn't work. All in all, Build A Rocket Boys! will please even the most skeptical Elbow fans, and hopefully win over some new ones.