fri 21/06/2024

CD: Elbow - Giants of All Sizes | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Elbow - Giants of All Sizes

CD: Elbow - Giants of All Sizes

Brutal times put Guy Garvey at bay

These horribly remarkable times can shake the strongest souls.

Since the popular acceptance of The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow at their worst have sometimes resembled their friends and supporters Coldplay, offering anthemic placebos to vaguely generalised ills, as Guy Garvey’s big, sentimental heart buried the odder, proggier band they once were. But this sixth album mourns the death of Garvey’s dad and close friends during a period of nihilistic national trauma, from Brexit to Grenfell. Bruising and unravelling marks its music.

“Dexter and Sinister” is about lost faith and death’s certain extinction. Inspired by a rapid succession of funerals which left “the heaviest heart jackhammering”, it washes up on England’s coast, catching sullen expanses of the country in its wake. “Empires”, whose multiple sections recall Elbow’s love of early Genesis, sees drums relentlessly slam to a stop, Garvey’s words despairingly dragging, as national and personal certainties are violently dashed. Finally even that bereft voice falls away, leaving only organ, as if in an empty chapel.

“White Noise White Heat” confronts inherent optimism with the sight of Grenfell Tower’s shameful terror, unnamed but behind every word. Brass and the rasping buzz of guitar become vengefully huge, the strings hysterical, the singer “just some blarney Mantovani”, dwarfed by events. Recoiling, he recants: “I was born with a trust that didn’t survive...the white heat of injustice has taken my eyes/I just want to get high.”

Garvey can’t leave himself or his listener defeated, softening earlier despair with hope. “My Trouble” begins as a gauzy waltz, strengthening into a soaring croon of love for an absent partner, and even his dad’s death is balanced by his son’s life in the final song, “Weightless”. But it’s his looks into an abyss he never thought he’d see which linger.

Garvey’s words despairingly drag, as national and personal certainties are violently dashed


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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