Review Summary: Crazy, Edgy and sometime Schizophrenic, are words i would not describe this with. Instead it's quite relaxing.
The elbow is the part of the arm that is impossible to touch with both hands, unless you've been in a claims direct advert recently. Fortunatly though, it is also the name of an alternate (and occasionally progressive) rock band hailing from Manchester in England, the city that gave birth to Oasis and a football team (managed by a knight with a pruple face who likes to chew a lot.) Recently now, or now recently, Elbow have enjoyed chart success with their most recent album; the seldom seen kid, gaining a reletively large fanbase, which includes my mother, who is completely deaf. Does that say anything?
But before this lovely bit of radioplay Elbow have been basking in, "What were the band like beforehand?" my mother gestures using a mixture of complex sign language. Their first LP, "Asleep in the back" brought a classic outing of progressive, yet eupohric and atmospheric rock music, laced with lush piano, and Guy's velvet voice which you could spread on toast. A very fine purchase for those who love music, it seemed this album would be quite hard to top.
So Elbow return with a second effort, aptly named "A cast of thousands" (primarily because the whole of a Glastonbury audience are featured on one of the songs, which is a shame because i think "Elbow featuring Glastonbury" would have been a way cooler album name, and possibly a chart topper) and from the opening shows, Elbow have taken a bit of a change on this album. Sure, the classic Elbow sound is there, from the atmospheric opening, the distant synth and Guy's ever so smooth tone. But somethings a little different. There seems to be more experimentation going on, vibes, fuzzy bass, vocals from a choir. You can immediatly tell that this is going to be a different outing from the last LP, but not in a bad way at all. It's slightly exciting.
The experimentation continues on numerous tracks, with some quite popish rock songs (fallen angels, buttons and zips, not a job) which would go perfect on any radio station, and two songs that have the sad Elbow feel that they do so well (Fugitive motel, crawling with idiots.) There are some songs that have a sound to them that is quite diffucult to categorize too (i've got you're number, snooks) sounding a bit like a chilled out guitar jam with a groovy beat, completed with vibes and Guy's voice, which i'm sure you've gathered by now, is like stroking a cat.
The main highlight of this album though, is the haunting "switching off." A song that heavily suggests euthanasia, and is carried beautifully by and old accordian sounding instrument, and Guy's voice, which you'd never think, is actually quite smooth.
So we have an album here that is a really good effort, in terms of keeping Elbows signature sound, but tweaking it ever so slightly. The only downfall the album has is the inconsistency of some of the tracks. Because of the contrast in the song moods, the album leaves you bewildered with whats coming next. Some might say this is a good thing, but I just found it hard to stay in tune with the whole thing upon the first few listens. A nice listen though, with superb arrangments, Guy's voice which I've only just noticed right this moment in time, is actually quite smooth, and is sure to satisfy anyone with a soul. It's a shame noone else reviewed this album sooner though, because now i'm the one with all the credit mwahahaha. 4/5