Album Review: Elbow, The Take Off and Landing of Everything

Elbow have become something of a hard sell. Since their well-earned breakthrough, by eternally soundtracking major BBC events, they’ve turned into one of those boring, middle-aged dad-rock bands like Coldplay or Keane.

Thus, unless they abandon everything that has brought them to where they are now, they are unlikely to garner new fans without alienating old ones – and certainly not by making an album even mellower than those that precede it.

Which brings us to The Take Off and Landing of Everything: it’s Elbow-by-numbers. It is not an explosive record by any stretch. For some this might be more of a good thing, for others a little self-indulgent.

The album presents a band ostensibly at the peak of its powers, yet unsure exactly how to use them. The refrain of ‘My Sad Captains’, feels like an attempt to write another arena anthem to sit alongside ‘One Day Like This’ without the defiant joy. It leaves the listener somewhat underwhelmed, rather than life-affirmed.

‘New York Morning’ provides a rare lift from the melancholy, the pianos hitting like a breath of fresh air in an album that gets bogged down in itself all too often.

[Ally Shaw]

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