Elbow: Giants of All Sizes review – big tunes and small triumphs

Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 06:00


Giants of All Sizes




Eight albums in, and still Elbow divide people. Their detractors shoehorn the Northern English band into a cosy, middle-class corner. Their music, they note, is little more than prog-rock minus the wiggly instrumentals.

A rejoinder from the fans is that they get the prog-rock slur, but what makes Elbow different is the way they fuse sometimes tricky time signatures with melodies The Beatles would be proud of. And what about the lushness of the studio production? The ingrained, engineered anthemic quality that makes the music perfect for humming along to?

Elbow - Empires

And then, obligated fans will point out, what about Guy Garvey, a man for whom the word sincere was invented? The writer of lyrics that consider deeply personal issues, the singer of songs that reflect upon the bleakness of our times and the triumphs of the human spirit – surely he, like the band he fronts, is the best? Yada, yada, etc.

Forget the hammer and tongs – Elbow return with yet another measured and often exceptionally good record that is equally very them (Weightless) and a group trying to foil expectations (White Noise White Heat, The Delayed 3:15). A period of transition begins.