Elbow - Little Fictions
As Elbow turn 20 years old, they release their seventh album ‘Little Fictions’ which shows that neither the loss of drummer Richard Jupp or age can slow them down as a besotted Guy Garvey sings of love and life in a much more upbeat record than they’ve attempted before.
Elbow’s seventh album ‘Little Fictions’ is both familiar and unlike nothing they have ever done before, it’s a mixture of both quiet introspective thoughts on love and loud bold statements on political unrest such as Brexit, it’s refreshing to see a band who are now hitting 20 years on the scene but can still create refreshing ideas with a new style when it comes to their music.
The album opens with the tremendous ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ an absolutely stunning track which truly soars especially when the strings kick in, however it’s also the safest track on the album, the grand nature of the song is very similar to their previous album “The Take Off And Landing Of Everything” but unlike that record this one has a much more uplifting feel to it. If you’d listened to their previous record you would have also noticed it had a large emphasis on strings(to beautiful effect I must add), ‘Little Fictions’ however quickly puts an end to this theme on it’s following tracks.
This album is best described as experimental, it’s distinctly elbow but I’ve really been struggling to pin it to any of their previous styles, which is by all means a very good and progressive move by the band, take for example ‘Gentle Storm’ which has an African beat that wouldn’t be a miss in a nightclub or perhaps featured on Guy’s solo album ‘Courting Of The Squall’, what’s even more strange is that it’s not actually a dance track despite the beat, It truly is unlike anything I’ve heard before, a ballad placed on top of a dance beat should not work at all but it’s to the credit of elbow that it somehow ends up feeling strangely natural.
‘All Disco’ see’s the band go big for the only other time on the record bar ‘Magnificent’ and even then it ends up feeing restrained, instead of hitting a mighty chorus, the song continues to build up until a triumphant finale which is then made even more impactful by the choir and a surprise appearance of synths which later appear in the bands longest ever track, the title track ‘Little Fictions’where they are used to a create an unfamiliar, alien like screech during it’s epic climax.
‘Trust The Sun’, ‘Firebrand & Angel’ and ‘K2’ all feel like throwbacks to elbow’s roots (think pre Seldom Seen Kid) they are all decent tracks in their own right, especially the Brexit condemning‘K2’ but It’s in the albums quiet and introspective moments that it truly shines however, midway through the album is ‘Head For Supplies’ in which Guy sings a love song over a simple yet beautiful guitar melody, If you were in any doubt on how to use a choir to proper effect just wait for the final verse in which Guy’s voices mixes in with the choir to create an angelic harmony which just lifts the song. My personal favourite on the album has to be ‘Montparnasse’ never has such a short song managed to say so much in such a little space of time, Guy uses each verse to paint a mesmerising picture inside your mind, it’s the lyrical highlight of the album, Guy is well known as one of Britain’s best lyricists and if anyone doubts this fact then be sure to show them this song which can only be described as a story told in the length of a paragraph.
Speaking of lyrics this is Guy at his most heartfelt, recent marriage to the truly lovely actress Rachel Stirling alongside impending fatherhood has really brought out the delight in his hear, Rachel if anything is an inspired muse for the album, whereas the last album focuses on the collapse of a long term relationship ‘Little Fictions’ truly explores the little moments and stories that come out of during the start of a blossoming one. creatively it’s allowed elbow to branch out into uncharted territory and as a life long fan, I’m more than grateful for the new direction.
Saying that I’ve really struggled to nail down my thoughts on elbow’s latest, I had put off even reviewing it until I’ve felt like I’d fully immersed myself in it but after taking a whole week to let it sink in, I think I can finally bring it to a conclusion.
This album definitely takes a commitment and multiple listens to discover it’s secrets but each time I went through it I ended up noticing something different and exciting about each track, take the final track ‘Kindling’ for instance, only a few listens later could I start to notice the fantastic percussion made out of an actual sack of kindling. Elbow have proven that despite a large and rewarding 20 year career that they are still able to innovate and excite, It may not be as instantly satisfactory as their last few releases but the more you give this release, the more your able to get out of it and the experience it gives you and at the end of the day isn’t that exactly what a great album should be providing.
Also let me just say that that the album cover is one of the most spectacular I’ve seen, I doubt it will be topped this year.