Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything
“Was the universe in rehearsal?” wonders Guy Garvey on opener The World is Blue. Clocking at nearly eight minutes and ghosting to a string-driven coda, it sets the tone for much of Elbow’s sixth album. Don’t expect surprises.
There is scant departure from the sparse palette of predecessor Build a Rocket Boys!, Garvey’s romantic wanderings, those sidelong observations of life in unfaltering close-up, supported by pulsing, minimal percussion and a wash of strings and keyboards. The skiffle jaunt of Fly Boy Blue is the only shift away from that default mode, the arms-aloft reach of New York Morning the only properly robust anthem.
A chill, reserved work that cries out for more melody, more drama, The Take Off and Landing of Everything makes good on only a portion of its off-puttingly awkward title. Resolutely sticking to the template, it rarely ascends. Playing safe keeps it frustratingly earth-bound, and while you suspect that Elbow’s arena-filling fan-base will lap up more of the same, coasting of this type is as odd as it is unbecoming. [Gary Kaill]