Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys!

by Dan Clay Rating:7 Release Date:2011-03-07

Listening to the Bury music poineers' latest album is very much like watching a rather large rocket go off. The levels of anticipation since previous efforts has increased to a point where only spectacular will do. After a stuttering start, and one or two false flashes of the epic, along comes the boom, the lights and the delivery before the starry night sky shows itself amid a slow but enjoyably twinkly fizzing out.

After The Seldom Seen Kid's unexpected success, Guy Garvey resists the temptation to go for radio-friendly melancholy a la Coldplay and instead immerses the listener in a road trip around northern love spots. First we get 'The Birds', a lengthy, slow-building electronic ode to nature before the well-observed '

' brings us a nostalgic take on youth. "Lippy kids on the corner again/Stealing booze and down long hungry kisses/Do they know those days are golden?" sings Garvey over a soaring backing to produce the second best song on the album.

After the meandering 'With Love' - or is that 'Luv'? - lead single '

' arrives with its love letter to northern terraced streets and a rather neat piano riff. Almost makes you wish you could echo Garvey's wishes, to "lay my bones in cobbled stones" like an ode to the Hovis ads of old. The wonderfully-titled 'Jesus is a Rochdale Girl' brings us some acoustic respite before the album's middle section - an odd assortment of instrumental shuffles ('High Ideals') and lengthy intros which emerge into bloom ('The Night Will Always Win' and 'The River') - precede the launch.

Though it will no doubt be lapped-up by fans and radio bosses as this year's 'One Day Like This', '

' aims far higher, shooting towards epic with its Halle choir backing and booming chorus; easily the best thing on the record. Like the aftermath of the excitement, "Dear Friends" brings us a sweet, soft ending which, as the strains of the dying brass fade away, conjures images of said rocket fizzing out to a satisfying end.

Not the masterpiece some hoped for, others expected, Build a Rocket Boys! shows a band in full flow, refusing to fall for a flutter and much like Mr Sinatra, doing things their way. The results are, for the most part, worth the wait.

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