Elbow
Audio Vertigo


3.7
great

Review

by Dakota West Foss STAFF
March 26th, 2024 | 28 replies


Release Date: 03/22/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hallelujah, buy us a pint

The greatest impact that Justin Timberlake’s recent Everything I Thought It Was has levied against the world has been a return to the inevitable question that happens whenever an older star’s shine has dulled: is the lack of support from ageism? It’s not. Rest assured, that album sucks, but I do think there is the potential to wring some semblance of discourse from that tired PR Hail Mary by acknowledging that there is a conversation to be had about the passage of time and how artists choose to age. In Justin’s case, his inability to square his boyish veneer of vulnerability with the circle of, well, anything tangible after years of very public moments that could have been ripe for introspective material.

Getting old is not an excuse for getting bored.

This little nugget of wisdom seems to be something that was told at the eleventh hour to The National, who nearly got away with another clunker in Laugh Track by sneaking in “Space Invader” and “Smoke Detector” -two of their best songs in years. That band of Sad Dads (ugh) have become long in the tooth because they let their depressive ethos calcify into a hamster wheel of boredom that can only suggest a feeling rather than inflict it. The rare moments of brilliance in their later works suggest a frustrating ability to conjure gold when they want to, and to contact Phoebe Bridgers when they don’t -but who wants to grade on a curve? Judas Priest and Iron Maiden are still rocking out as if nobody told them the 80’s ended ages ago, and David Bowie even managed to put out one of his finest achievements with cancer sieging his body. Resignation is not an inevitability as history piles up, it is an option. Fury and grace are as well.

Thankfully, Elbow have chosen the latter on their tenth studio album, AUDIO VERTIGO. Rather than play into that title’s suggestion of some weird or off-kilter direction, the band have actually gone the opposite direction: energized, centered, and considered. The closest thing to a left-hook here is the sheer amount of groove and electricity on offer after a string of relatively chiller (even for them) affairs. “Lovers’ Leap” slinks around with an infectious bassline and a hypnotic brassline with the sort of athletic ease that can only come from decades under the belt. “Good Blood Mexico City” is one of the most upfront tracks the band has ever conjured, treading dangerously close to post-punk and will surely be a live staple for years to come. Even if an old dog can’t learn new tricks, it can at least try on new clothes.

With that in mind, Elbow make their money here the way they always have by dialing things back and letting their deceptively simple songs do the haunting. The name of the game here is time and one’s place in the world as the band eyes the other side of 50. “I can read people, yeah,” confesses frontman Guy Garvey as the first “thing” on “Things I’ve Been Telling Myself for Years”. Yes, the self-effacing middle-aged loathing schtick litters the record (“My days are shapeless now/I’m something of a sacred cow” on the hilariously macabre “Balu”), but it is thankfully played with the knowing wink that could only come from a mature understanding of one's own faults.. Still, the band is unafraid of sounding human, delivering an effective one-two punch of late night ashtray “Poker Face” (“There’s only so many corners in any size of town/forever braced in poker face for the one you come around”) and the quietly triumphant “Knife Fight” (“Even when we communicate disastrously/I want you, I love you, I need you/Hallelujah, buy us a pint”).

To reiterate, Audio Vertigo is not likely to convert anyone to Elbow’s brand of mostly-mellow soft rock. At ten albums and nearly a quarter century in, you do mostly know what you’re going to get going in. Thankfully, that also includes Elbow’s commitment to quality songwriting. This is a good album for a band as deep into their career as Elbow, but it’s also worthwhile even without that qualifier. The band aren’t getting any younger, but they are getting wiser and, dare I say, more fun.



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user ratings (26)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2024


2099 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

It's honestly really hard to write about a band as pleasant and consistent as Elbow, but I gave it the ol' college try. This thing is a ton of fun and worth checking out

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2024


5914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I don't know too much about this band, although I'm familiar with their (very solid) debut, but thoroughly enjoying this one. Yet another great album from an utterly packed release week.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2024


2099 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

They really haven’t released anything bad. Highly recommend the song Little Fictions and My Sad Captains for the band at their best

someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2024


6654 Comments


so they just gon bail on Flying Dream 2?

Trifolium
March 26th 2024


39087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah thought that was weird too... Maybe it'll take a couple of albums before we know how that dream ends?



Checking this one out soon.

DoofDoof
March 26th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I’ll revisit but I feel like I might have passed my saturation point with this band

Trifolium
March 26th 2024


39087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That happened past Little Fictions for me. But who knows!

zakalwe
March 26th 2024


38938 Comments


I jumped off at Little Fictions but got back on with Flying Dream 1 which is one of the very best.

I have listened to this once and liked it.

Elbow are very necessary.

Trifolium
March 26th 2024


39087 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Her To The Earth is very very lovely. Oof!

DoofDoof
March 26th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah second listen this is super unexciting but also pretty good despite that.



It’s an Elbow album.

DoofDoof
March 26th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Think the closer is my favourite, had the vibes

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2024


1783 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Balu is a great track, probably my favorite song here

Tunaboy45
March 26th 2024


18429 Comments


I really know nothing about post 2000s Elbow except that they release albums like clockwork and they're always surprisingly well received. Heard Lovers' Leap the other day and thought it was great.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2024


2099 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I've reliably gone through the same cycle with pretty much everything they've released over the last decade lol

zakalwe
March 26th 2024


38938 Comments


I’m with you Odal when it comes to ‘My Sad Captains’

Unbelievable song.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2024


5914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

This is sinking its hooks in me, will probably bump up my rating. The lyrics are quite great.

DoofDoof
March 27th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Think a 3 ceiling for me, it’s decent though

DoofDoof
March 27th 2024


15103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Got to be honest - 'Balu' isn't my favourite synth pop song of all time, one of my less favourite ones here

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2024


5914 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Very Heaven, Her To The Earth, and Good Blood Mexico City are probably my favorite tracks, but most of the rest are growing as well

Icebloom
March 27th 2024


776 Comments


The Take Off and Landing of Everything was the last Elbow album that really did something for me

Not expecting much from this one. Will prob have two or three nice tunes though



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