In 2008, when Radiohead was up for the coveted Mercury Music Prize for their brilliant 2007 album, In Rainbows, everyone thought they were a shoe-in. As it turned out, everyone was dead wrong. The prize, instead, went to British quintet Elbow for their equally brilliant album The Seldom Seen Kid. Even a staunch Radiohead fan like me wouldn’t deny them this honor. In this case, they earned it in spades.
Elbow’s five members are:
- Guy Garvey – lead vocals, guitar
- Mark Potter – guitar, vocals
- Craig Potter – keyboards, organ, vocals
- Pete Turner – bass, keyboards, vocals
- Richard Jupp – percussion
Though quite popular in the UK, Elbow hadn’t really garnered US attention until they stole the Mercury prize from Yorke and company. Their music style is a moody brand of pop rock usually accompanied by strings and, on occasion, by a horn section. Elbow’s music is often times lyrically brilliant and touching. Steeming with clever word-play, their lyrics more-so than not, deal with love and other life relationships. This makes their music very relatable which is always endearing.
They have released 4 LPs to date but none of them pack quite the punch that The Seldom Seen Kid does. From beginning to end this album is completely on point. It’s not only gorgeous, it was one of the best produced albums that year. Everything is crystal clear. Every bone chilling moment hits you as hard or gently as they wanted it to, and there are plenty of them. Garvey’s soothing voice molds his lyrics like modeling clay, resulting in the prettiest damn mug your kid has ever brought home from third grade art class. Elbow’s other albums are well worth the cash you shell out for them. I just think The Seldom Seen Kid is their best effort to date and a great place to start.
Elbow’s best attribute after their lyrics is most certainly their string arrangements. They always compliment the music perfectly and add just the right energy to the mix. I wish they would use horns more. Then again, I wish everyone would use horns more, I do love me some horns. Horns or no horns, Elbow comes highly recommended by me. These guys deserve more credit than they are given. But, to quote LeVar Burton, and I may be the first and last person to ever do that, don’t take my word for it.