Thursday, December 08, 2005

Leaders Of The Free World

Elbow are, I've found, a band whose music never jumps out at you on the first or even second listen. Their first two albums were sonically similar, the product of a mellow, somewhat proggy indie rock band prone to moments of sweeping beauty. I think about them this way - they are making the Peter Gabriel records that Peter Gabriel doesn't make anymore - you know, the classic '80s records. Guy Garvey's voice even has it's Gabriel-esque moments. The songs are things full of melodrama and emotion, with growling, low key riffs that soar into pretty choruses, and with only a few songs "rocking" in the traditional style. The music touches on the rock of Radiohead, The Doves and The Super Furries. Their songs tend to be epic and slow to unfold.
As usual it's taken a while for their latest album Leaders Of The Free World to sink in. It is a great album. They take all they've done so far and distill it into a more concise yet still musically powerful set of tunes. And they appear to have found a bit of funky rhythm - their songs have often had a wee bit of groove, but several tracks here are downright funky. The emotion and drama are still intact, it's just easier to get at. Picky Bugger is ALL about the groove - it rides a big, swampy, Tom Waits riff, and Guy gets his falsetto on. It's a lovely bit of spartan, melancholic funkiness. Mexican Standoff is also surprisingly uptempo, kicking of with latin handclaps before a twangy guitar zooms into the mix. A swoony, slinky rocker with one hell of a guitar solo. This tune rocks harder that anything they've done, I reckon.

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