Don’t you think it is one of the most annoying questions to come under: Name three albums to take with you to a desert island?
Yes, an utterly nightmare question for music buffs in particular. A never-ending anxiety state due to the fear of “being have to leave something out
” with a broken heart. As much absurd this list making is, as much irresistible in the mean time. Me, that is why every now and then I can’t help getting lost within hundreds of records only to figure which one I’d need more than others if I “ever
” happen to fall in a desert island. And my long-term observations have proved that each time Elbow
release something new this masochistic anxiety state of mine relapses. Every new Elbow release plays havoc with my sacred list of “Desert Island Discs
Once again my statement is avered by those glorious Mancunians. Once again the whole thing is subversively turned upside down with them giving birth to album #4: The Seldom Seen Kid
. A long time anticipated, god send (so to speak), life restoring record falling off into the year of 2008 promising to be lasting in listeners’ minds-hearts for life-long. One hour journey-that you never want it to end- into the genuine world of Elbow
; bracing, destructive, inflammatory, traumatic, soulful, rebellious, loving, harrowing, emotive, whiplashing, depressive, soft, blatant, sad, direct and indirect…
During the long wait for the new album, I remember the word about Elbow
on the street was like “the new release is going to be a return album to Asleep in the Back
era”. I thought then “very well”. Not because I had any complains about Leaders of the Free World
or Cast of Thousands
as I love them both equally almost as much as I idolize Asleep in the Back
. It’s just that the idea of “traveling back to the said album (which is known as one of the best debuts ever!)” got me thrilled in dense. But to speak candidly; the real expectation I was feeding within was on some album combining all three breathtaking records Elbow
have granted to music planet up to date. When the day has come, I would have seen my humble expectations generously coming true. What a treat?! Both for me and the desert island!
First song Starlings
is the way to start such a laudable record. A still and silent intro split into pieces by noisy and multi-faceted intervals. Starting with a witty line “How dare the Premier ignore my invitations? He’ll have to go...
” you wonder where this song is leading you. Before long, you see the truth rising above from behind the walls of emotions. A ballad for the woman of perfection from sort of an insecure man: “You’re the only thing in any room you’re ever in. I’m stubborn, selfish and too old.
” Yet another crashing line to be imprinted in one’s memory. It’s just the first song so far, and don’t you feel already melted away with Guy Garvey
’s mastery play with words? Needless to say as always…
Then comes The Bones of You
part of which has been started streaming on the official Elbow
website few months prior to the release date. This is most definitely one of the most moving and recollective tracks in The Seldom Seen Kid
. Gitano-esque beats take us one album back, to those cheery moments where we sang and clapped to Mexican Standoff
. Garvey’s hilly vocals reviving a man who is sticked to the memories of five years ago again in his finest poetry scraps our hearts into breaks: “… I love the bones of you that I’ll never escape. …and I can’t move my arm through the fear that you’ll wake… and I’m five years ago, three thousand miles away
”. Adorned with the desirous drum beats and guitar contributions, this is one song you can hardly get enough of.
The show goes on with a typical Elbow
. Emotionally immense, full of love telling about a satisfactory termination at its darkest through Garvey’s soft and calm voice like a millpond. Just admire the powerful lines so to say setting off from heaven, floating in the air clinging to the gentle exposure of strings, piano and outstanding bass. “…the street is singing with my feet and dawn gives me a shadow I know to be taller…
Being settled down with Mirrorball
; Elbow have some ripping tune in their cache, Grounds for Divorce
. Blended with enthusiastic blues and country strains, this tune leaves you no chance other than singing along and sharing the joy especially in the gripping chorus where the guitar is distorted highly. Grounds for Divorce
is the first single from the album and is also entitling the album by the phrase “The Seldom Seen Kid
” past in the lyrics. “The Seldom Seen Kid
” addressing to Bryan Glancy
; a Mancunian musician and a friend of the band who tragically lost his life in 2006. Elbow have dedicated the whole record in memory of their good friend Glancy
.An Audience with the Pope
is a smooth, soft uprise against being religiously conservative about sex. It’s a cleverly written personal clearance confessing “the world is turning at her pace
” as in love beats anything. “I have an audience with the Pope and I’m saving the world at 8 but if she says she needs me, everybody’s going to have to wait
” Mild percussion beats in harmony with the velvety piano sound so real and mellow that you feel an artistic stroke over your ears. Weather to Fly
, one of the most Asleep in the Back
sounding songs in the album is simply about the band itself. Guy Garvey
asking questions to listeners examining life and then turns the mirror into their selves, zooming into the way they stand. “…so in looking to stray from the line we decided instead we should pull out the thread that was stitching us into this tapestry vile…
” This is some kind of a monotonous melody with powerful lyrics and personal approach requiring at least few listens until it grows on you. Just like many other Elbow songs, actually.
The familiar Elbow
sound keeps breezing through The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
, five beautiful minutes on loneliness. Insinuated referrals to the life that looks isolated enough to be considered as a joke: “Now I live off the mirrors and smoke. It’s a joke, a fix, a lie…
” With biting words on loneliness and ultra-amazing vocal show of Guy Garvey
– rises and going downs between verses – I can say it is one of my favorites in the album. Again, give it few listens. You’ve got to get deeper and deeper to feel the real blast!
Next song, The Fix
has been the biggest surprise from The Seldom Seen Kid
for me, especially at first listen. Not only with the different path that the song is leading comparing to the rest of Elbow
discography but also with the magical contribution of legendary Richard Hawley
. I transferred into an unidentified dimension as soon as I heard someone other than Garvey going “The Fix is in…
” and figured out that this person being Richard Hawley
. Amazing track bringing us to vineyards, getting us soaked in a vine showering up in the hills. Letting us to dream! Guy Garvey
teaming up with Richard Hawley
and Hawley getting his guitar talk like he means it giving a glorious ending to this excellent piece of music. Kudos all around!Some Riot
starts gently bringing the ethereal feeling back. A great piano work accompanying a covered monologue, sang in depth with profound vocals.One Day Like This
seems to be one of the most liked tunes in the album. I think the peaceful intro of strings and the catchy chorus gets the credit here. And I have to mention that the strings going noisier in an oriental way towards ending hand in hand with impressive guitar sprinkles and the spiritful lyrics make this one a winner. I’d definitely love to hear this one live.
Final track Friend of Ours
is an extremely powerful, touching tribute to the good friend Bryan Glancy
. It is a solidly sensitive piece of poetry floating through the sea of longing. Bitter lyrics as large as life and the way Guy singing, so deep that you can’t help feeling it by heart. A crafty homeage and a sentient farewell to The Seldom Seen Mate
. Guy’s from the heart singing “love you mate…
” makes you live
the song, it drives you get lost between emotions, piano and strings.
Way to finish such a life-changing good record. I feel devastated. Positively devastated. In a good way. I am musically gratified and emotionally overset. Once again, I am gladly grateful to Elbow
; one of the best, nicest yet underrated bands on earth – that they have given us an hour of musical voyage to directly hit the climax. Anything I was expecting from them has been met dreadfully and I am sure many more fans are with me here. Special congratulations to the keyboardist Craig Potter
with all the work he has done in producing. A musical blast from head to foot. Some record to pass life with even in a desert island, with ultimate satisfaction.
All left to be said now is I guess, I hope new tour dates shall be announced soon and they don’t leave Istanbul debarred from their lovely selves. As I know they are awfully missed around these parts…