As a band, elbow have been going for 20 odd years which makes it all the stranger that they are considered as an overnight success. From small beginnings they now regularly sell out major venues, wrote the theme for the Olympics and with the release of their 6th offering are they now ready to join those at the very top table of the music industry?
The opening track This Blue World starts gently enough before expanding at its midpoint. As a start it gives a warmth that only Guy Garvey’s voice can bring. The mood changes almost immediately with Charge – a song about an older man entering a pub full of youths who do not acknowledge his presence ‘glossy be these fuckers are ignoring me’ he states before asking for ‘G&T and sympathy’, this track also sees the incredible Halle Orchestra join the ride.
From there we are into the two tracks the band gave us as a preview to the album. Fly Boy Blue / Lunette a two part track half almost pink Floyd, the other clearly elbow as the singer laments giving up smoking. The first half felt such a departure upon its first few listens but now just seems right. From the almost rap lyrics and strong guitar.
Straight after comes the wonderful New York Morning, the first time the band have sung about any place away from home. Since One Day Like This many have expected the next version and whilst this may not be it, it certainly feels like the sing along anthem that we now expect at a festival each summer. A sweeping piece that feels it could fill the city of its title.
From there the quality does not drop. Real Life is another great elbow song full of hypnotic words and set to a great beat and string arrangement. A song that feels a lament to a lost love the hurt can be heard in Guy’s voice. Honey Sun begins oddly enough with an outtake before the drums kick in, this time the lyric takes us to a place where the ‘angels,lace the lemonade’.
My Sad Captains, a song about how you and your mates drinking habits change with age, is another highlight. Again it has all the hallmarks of a great elbow live track, catchy yet sad and triumphant at the same time. It even has echoes of both elbows own Open Arms and, dare I say, tender from Blur. Colour fields introduces us to a girl who either is, or thinks she is, better than the town she lives in. Not as uplifting as some of its predecessors.
The title track is a real change of direction again, so many times here this happens certainly more than its predecessors seldom seen kid and build a rocket. Finally the gentle, reflective The Blanket of Night brings the 58 minutes to a wonderful close. As guy looks to the ocean to carry him and his angel to safety. A beautiful song.
So just how good is The Take Off and Landing Of Everything? In a word? Epic. The 10 songs are a perfect mix of elbow familiarity with some new sounds, brilliantly written and played perfectly. Q magazine even suggested it is better than the Seldom Seen Kid which is one hell of a claim. Do I agree with them? Not quite. Whilst there are no poor songs on here I feel that the high points of Seldom just pip this into 2nd place but in many ways it’s like choosing between your left and right leg, in all honesty there is nothing in it.
This album is a triumph, a celebration of a band at the very top of their game. It won’t be the biggest selling album of 2014 but without any shadow of doubt there will be nothing better than this in the year, or for many a year to come. Buy this record, you will not regret it.
Now sorry I have more listening to do!