Elbow return with their new album, The Seldom Seen Kid. Recorded by the band at their own facility within Salford’s Blueprint Studios and produced by keyboard player, Craig Potter, The Seldom Seen Kid is the follow up to 2005’s universally acclaimed Leaders Of The Free World and first for Fiction/Geffen Records.
The lyrical core of The Seldom Seen Kid sees Guy Garvey address key questions of life. The 11 tracks on the album cover themes of love and loss and become the central focus of an album that sees Elbow, a band universally recognized for their musical ability and innovation; stretch their sonic template further than ever before. With band members now fathers of young children this is an unashamedly grown up record from a band that can rightfully claim status as elder statesmen of the UK music scene. In a climate where the single could be regarded as king this is also very much an album, designed and envisaged to be listened to as a whole.
Elbow’s success to this point has been less than smooth, the band being together since 1991 and, as has been documented, suffering a false start to their career before a succession of rapturously received independent EP’s in the form of Noisebox, Newborn and Any Day Now led to the release of debut album Asleep In The Back (and subsequent Mercury and Brit nominations) in 2001 followed by Cast of Thousands which was released in 2004. A band keen to consistently challenge their listeners both lyrically and musically, Elbow’s progress from that point has seen them accommodate overtly political and emotionally bare lyricism across their formidable back catalogue.
The Seldom Seen Kid continues in that tradition. Moving from the sparse electronic of “Starlings” through the flamenco influenced “The Bones Of You” to the Zepellinesque rock of “Grounds For Divorce” where Garvey’s humour shines in the opening couplet of ‘I’ve been working on a cocktail / Called grounds for divorce’. The album centrepiece, “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” melds Elbow’s musical ability to create epic heartfelt soundtracks with Guy’s knack of making the personal universal, telling the story of a boastful tower crane operator revealing the inner misery of his life in a discussion of the hollow centre of many outwardly successful lives. Elbow’s ability to deliver a knock out ballad is, as with previous albums, very much evident on the gorgeous “Mirrorball” and the sunny cousin to Asleep In The Back’s “Any Day Now,” and first single, ‘”One Day Like This.” “The Fix” denotes a substantial change of mood, being the first duet on an Elbow album, Richard Hawley joins Guy for a Bacharach like story of two hustlers planning their rosy future. “Friend Of Ours” closes the album in a tribute to the Seldom Seen Kid of the title, Bryan Glancy, Manchester songwriter and sadly missed friend of Elbow who died in 2007 with a delicacy and honesty that is a consistent hallmark of the band.
The Seldom Seen Kid will be released in the U.S. on Fiction/Geffen Records April 22nd, 2008.