About 2 years ago I burned a copy of Asleep In The Back, the debut CD from Elbow. I’d bought it on a whim, really, having probably read about it on HMV’s staff picks page or Pitchfork. I flipped out when I heard it; it struck me as sounding like what Radiohead would have been if they’d taken the other path after recording The Bends rather than heading toward OK Computer. My friend wanted to hear this band I was raving about, so I burned a copy for him. He told me later that, as he listened to it on his way to work, he almost had to pull over, fearful that the shock & beauty of the opening track “Any Day Now” would distract him from the lunacy of the Don Valley Parkway. Later that same friend and I saw Elbow live at Lee’s Palace, a concert that consisted mainly of a replaying of the same album, but was impressive just by dint of the emotion that falls out of Guy Garvey’s voice and the music that struggles & strives to prop it up. I wanted more.
Finally, they’ve come back with their second disc, Cast Of Thousands. It doesn’t come out of the corner swinging in the first round like Asleep In The Back does. It gives you the rope-a-dope, letting you think you’re winning when really, you’re being violently lulled. By the end you’re stroking your bruises lovingly, happy to have been in such an artful contest.
Bring on the rematch.