Boasting their third decade in music, Elbow have steadily inched their way towards the mainstream masses. Their advances are the result of songs that encapsulate resounding honesty.
In their 24 or so years, the songs have swayed between romanticised boozing, bittersweet ageing and Manchester love affairs. Most notable of these was One Day Like This steering the band from a reputable well known periphery to national acclaim. ‘The Take Off And Landing of Everything’ is the sixth studio offering from the Northerners, and with it came a resolving pressure to deliver more than ever.
This Blue World is an initial lapse. A menacing seven minute slow-burning sombre introduction, it requires (like much of the record) a second listen to fully appreciate. With this elegiac opener, Elbow aren’t attempting to scorn the listener with anthemic hooks from the outset. ‘The Take Off and Landing of Everything’ depends instead upon subsequent listening.
Fly Boy Blue/Lunette brings you into Garvey’s world, the lyrics telling tales of mundane drudgery associated with constant commercial flights, all construed through a bluesy rhythmic beginning and ending with reverent orchestral swells.
While New York Morning pays homage to the big city, the quintessential Northern twang never eludes Garvey as he professes about his stint, “In the modern Rome where folk are nice to Yoko.” Colour Field extends the idea of place, inviting the bright girl to leave the dead town, no doubt correlated to the contrast Garvey experienced between Manchester and New York ,“where colour fields meets canvas and the picture breathes you in.”
People and place permeate ‘The Take Off and Landing of Everything’ to the core. Uncharacteristically Charge is the outlet for a shred of refrained gruff, “Glory be, these fuckers are ignoring me.” Through strained vocals, a bitter character (presumably met amongst Garvey’s travels) projects himself to the song’s protagonist, whose whetted tongue of sharpened slurs is juxtaposed so beautifully by the backing of The Manchester Hallé Orchestra.
‘The Take Off And Landing of Everything’ is pertinent to where Elbow lie now as a band. With Garvey residing in New York for a period and a BBC 6 residency, this album was definitively built by separation, with each band member making music individually and bringing it together. Admittedly, this formula that seems a little perturbed and conducive to failure. Yet the results show nothing of the sort.
Elbow fans will adore ‘The Take Off…’ in the same way as ‘Dead In The Boot’ , ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ and ‘Cast Of Thousands’. There is no massive disparity between this album and previous. But that is what has always won Elbow acclaim. They are forever consistent, and sometimes that consistency works wonders.