The Seldom Seen Kid



by sulkenigma USER (11 Reviews)
April 6th, 2012 | 19 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Garvey possesses a substantial amount of warmth within his voice; surviving even the most frozen of atmospheres created by the modest musicianship and instrumentation of his fellow band members.

I have a friend. I remember this same friend mentioned a band called Elbow. I had vaguely heard of them but had never dedicated time into listening to them. This friend spoke of them relatively highly and even went far enough to reward them the title of 'The Northern Radiohead'. As I was still in that 'Radiohead-will-always-be-the-greatest-band-ever' stage at the time, I saw this distinctive and peculiar description as an absolute necessity to listen to them. I started with this album.

What impressed me firstly was the album cover. The white Rubix-Cube-looking object in the middle always provided some intrigue; because if a Rubix Cube were plain and therefore colourless, its purpose would defeated. After this meaningless trail of thought, I proceeded with the music itself. After five arguably decent tracks, I was marginally impressed, bearing in mind that this was my first listen, and this was mostly through being familiar with the guitar break on 'Grounds for Divorce' which seemed to serve as the prime soundtrack to a trailer for every acclaimed British television drama. Putting that oxymoron aside, I queried my perception of the band with this friend, being ultimately sceptical from the start due to the Radiohead comparison. My friend, let's call him Darren, was reasonable, however, and told me to persevere. He then elaborated into declaring 'The Seldom Seen Kid' as a grower. I eventually came back to it... and what a difference.

The entirety of 'Starlings' is exactly what an opening track should sound like; the jittery electronic sounds and pleasant non-lexical mumbling pave a lovely pathway to a loud and triumphant horn section... with the emphasis on loud. After meaningful-sounding lyrics, such as “You pulled apart my theory with a weary and disinterested sigh”, this eventually progresses into a brief radiant interlude followed by the horn section again. Needless to say, this blew me away and I could not believe that I could let this slip the first time I listened to it.

The upbeat ‘Bones of You’ is an early and pleasant entry along with the splendid mid-track ‘Weather to Fly’ which is excellent for when you simply want to imagine yourself in the clouds. Getting back down to earth, the band proves that they can still rock out with the surprisingly immediate ‘Grounds For Divorce’ which is the blues-rock anthem for the end of the decade. My only criticism would be that it is perhaps too unlike the other tracks with its upbeat and driving nature.

The tingling ‘Mirrorball’ boasts an alluring and resplendent string section in the chorus, this song would have definitely managed to belong on Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ and fit that particular aesthetic, despite not sounding like that said band at all. Entertaining tracks such as ‘An Audience with the Pope’ and ‘The Fix’ are enjoyable and catchy but ultimately, less rewarding than others. Upon initial listening some Alternative Rock fans will probably argue that there is a disproportionate number of upbeat tracks to slow tracks, but after slower tracks such as ‘Some Riot’ and especially ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’, which pinpoints exactly how strong Garvey’s pipes are, begin to bloom and further develop with repeated listens, it is discovered that there is plenty to reap in Elbow’s field of benefits.

The gem of the album, however, has to be the monumental penultimate track ‘One Day Like This’ which I recently heard over the soundtrack to footage of preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games, which I am informed that Elbow are contributing a song towards. The Disney-esque strings at the beginning set an optimistic and majestic atmosphere which remains intact in quality through the lengthy-but-not-overstaying crescendo “throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year would see me right’ which would have been the perfect closer to a mighty album, which is seldom seen these days.

After having faith in my friend’s words that this is a grower, this was unquestionably accurate. Although definitely a grower, I found this album to be less of a flower. For some reason, the tracklisting always felt a little askew personally. Some first few tracks were too strong or upbeat, which made listening to the album in its entirety slightly draining with a multitude of lighter ballads together. The aforementioned penultimate track is the ultimate salvation, however, and arguably seems more epic due to previous tracks being of a lighter persuasion. If this closed the album, perhaps this review would be slightly higher, as the final track ‘Friend of Ours’ never had the same buzz as the others in my opinion.

Getting back to the album cover, I found the autumn-brown colours on the front to be synonymous with the music, which helped me find a solid connection between the two. This album is highly recommended for fans of the lighter side of alternative rock, or soft rock with an edge but I would not go as far to call them a ‘Northern Radiohead’. I am not in love with Elbow, but there is clear and undeniable potential for them to continue strong and unique with their burly brew of brilliance, which can only be fully described as “proper luuuush” with a mandatory Manchester accent.

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user ratings (283)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 6th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Fair enough, each to their own. And thank you!

April 6th 2012


Excellent review. I'm convinced to check this out.

April 6th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Again, thank you. These guys don't seem to see any success outside of the UK which is a shame.

April 6th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

Finally this gets a review. Thank you.

April 6th 2012


underrated here have some foxxxy cred

April 9th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Only one way to find out...

November 23rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

I understand the comments you made on friend of ours, but it too is a grower; the change from sparse landscape to vibrant strings and acoustic guitar is awesome once you give it a few listens. And yes, I've heard/seen many people say that an album which needs to be listened to a lot to enjoy is crap - "I don't want to learn to love an album" springs to mind - but that isn't the full story; an album which at first sounds good, but something makes you listen to it again is usually a fantastic album, one you make yourself listen to again never is.

As far as the fix being just enjoyable, well I can't agree with that; great song, very english-gangster-moving-abroad sound with two great "Ghost town" by the Specials sections. Other than that decent review. Apart from your mate thinking they're the northern Radiohead (can kind o' understand it but the music isn't the same, the vocals are way better and the band's approach to music is totally different. Don't trust that mate on music ever again) Some Riot is haunting and beautiful with lyrics so true and poignant it's unreal. Agree with everything else.

November 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

I don't really keep in contact with the person who I have referred to as Darren and I agree that Elbow are nothing like Radiohead in the slightest. I think he just said that to encourage me to listen to them so I suppose it worked. God bless Darren! With hindsight, I also agree with what you said about 'Friend of Ours'; the tenderness the song portrays is admirable at the very least. Lovely song.

April 28th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

This album is sooo well done. Mirrorball and On a Day like this are real gems.

Digging: Irezumi - Thirty

October 8th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

such an underrated band around here

October 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, great review too.

April 2nd 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

damn, this was a very enjoyable listen.

April 2nd 2014


Album Rating: 4.5


April 2nd 2014


Good band name

March 26th 2015


Album Rating: 4.5

Starlings 3/5

The bones of you 5/5

Mirrorball 4.5/5

Grounds for divorce 5/5

An audience with the pope 4/5

Weather to fly 5/5

The loneliness of a tower crane driver 3/5

The fix 4/5

Some riot 5/5

One day like this 5/5

Friends of ours 3.5/5

September 2nd 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! I very much agree with averything you say about this album. At first underwhelming, then it grows on you, but ultimately it's a tad boring and too much on the safe side. Not a lot of rock&roll basically... If i were to have this on vinyl I'd probably only listen to side a.

May 3rd 2016


Album Rating: 4.5

listen to this instead of new radiohead

January 1st 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

Been a while since I don't jam this. "Weather to Fly" is such an outstanding track.

Digging: The Go! Team - Semicircle

March 21st 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Just saw these fellas live, damn good show

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