Recorded at Brighton’s Theatre Royal when they ran out of audience during the pandemic, British band Elbow’s ninth album is more a work of its frontman and central creator, singer and songwriter Guy Garvey – also known as a BBC radio host. Here is a repertoire of indie rock-prog-folk-pop chamber music, where the lyrics and the soloist’s light tenor voice dominate. The choral, instrumental, and electronic overlay of this new Elbow cannot be fully appreciated without the lyrical, empathetic, benevolent, and emotionally lucid song poetry. Guy Garvey demonstrates his artistic depth and is at work here chiseling out very subtle texts, which are (in most cases) a diffraction of intimacy and reflections resulting from feelings. Loves and friendships in times of pandemic are the core of those songs, here evoked through a most substantial poetic thread. So you have to like the songwriting to really appreciate it because, although refined and elegant, the relatively conformist framework of the melodic-harmonic structures and the arrangements that decorate them do not announce anything surprising or spectacular. That being said, it is very beautiful and soothing.
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