Elbow - Little Fictions album review: Some agony along with the ecstasy

Thu, Feb 2, 2017, 10:28


Little Fictions




It may annoy some, but Elbow’s anthemic, morose-bloke style continues with the Englanders’ seventh album, and the first without original cofounder/drummer Richard Jupp.

That Elbow have made it to the top of the pile over the course of just over 15 years (their debut album, Asleep in the Back, was released in 2001) is testament to a few things, notably that many of us don’t actually mind experiencing anguish and joy within a hair’s breadth of each other.

Elbow tick the happy/sad box time and time again. The scoffing perception of the band views them as intelligent, empathetic likely lads down the pub (they like a pint or two, certainly, but have no problem discussing Rebecca Solnit’s latest essay after they waffle on about Wayne Rooney’s right foot).

But the truth is somewhat more straightforward: without guile or strategic second-guessing, they simply have their hearts in the right place.

There is, perhaps, a reason why Little Fictions sounds so gloriously in love with itself: singer-songwriter Guy Garvey’s recent marriage to actor Rachael Stirling. If 2014’s The Take Off and Landing of Everything constituted an emotional nosedive due to the sundering of Garvey’s long-term relationship with British writer Emma Jane Unsworth (with 2015 solo album Courting the Squall taking stock while manacled to a ship’s steering wheel), then Little Fictions repairs the cracks with much care and attention to detail.

“Love is the original miracle,” sings Garvey on the title track, eight minutes-plus of what are now the band’s signature patterns of delicate rhythmical undulations. In this manner, Elbow continue the work that began with The Take Off and Landing of Everything: taking pointers from Talk Talk and progressive rock, earworm melodies swirl through love songs as rich and restrained as Gentle Storm, All Disco, Head for Supplies, and Montparnesse.

So Elbow return with a balm for the senses; maybe 2017 won’t be so dreadful after all.