GIANTS OF ALL SIZES – ELBOW (2019)

 

giants

 

Giants of All Sizes is the eighth studio album by British alternative rock band Elbow, released on Polydor Records on 11 October 2019. The album has a darker lyrical tone than previous Elbow albums, with singer Guy Garvey’s lyrics relating to Brexit, the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the deaths of his father and two close friends. It was widely praised by critics, and entered the UK Albums Chart at number one, becoming the band’s third consecutive chart-topping studio album.

During the writing and recording of Giants of All Sizes three people close to the band died: Guy Garvey’s father Don died of lung cancer in March 2018, and in October 2018 two close friends of the group who lived and worked in Manchester, Scott Alexander (owner of live venues Big Hands and the Temple) and Jan Oldenburg (owner of the Night and Day Café, where Elbow gained their first record deal), both died unexpectedly within eight days of each other.The album’s liner notes carry a dedication to all three men. Garvey stated that these deaths greatly affected the band and influenced the “darker place” that the album comes from. “Dexter & Sinister” is a reference to the left and right sides of a heraldic design – Manchester’s coat of arms includes a shield with an antelope and a lion as supporters on either side, and Garvey said that he now pictured the shield without the two animals, representing the fact that Alexander and Oldenburg were no longer around.

Other songs on the album also touch on the subject of death. “The Delayed 3:15” tells the story of a man who committed suicide by throwing himself under a train that Garvey was travelling on between Manchester and London, causing the train to be held up while the body was retrieved. Garvey had been trying to write lyrics during the journey for the song’s music, which had been composed by guitarist Mark Potter, and he noted that the spot where the suicide occurred was one of the less picturesque places along the train route, and that the man had therefore seen no beauty in the act he committed. “Empires” acknowledges that someone somewhere in the world is always affected by deaths, natural disasters or job losses, and also describes Garvey’s belief that Brexit will trigger the eventual break-up of the European Union.

Another recurring theme on the album is the divisions in societies. “Dexter & Sinister”’s title alludes to the sharp division in the UK between the voters of the Leave and Remain sides in the Brexit debate. “White Noise White Heat” expresses Garvey’s anger at the neglect by the authorities that led to the Grenfell Tower fire and the lack of justice for the affected families in its aftermath, stating that it was “because they were poor”. “Doldrums” describes an event in Vancouver, where Garvey was accompanying his wife Rachel Stirling while she was filming The Bletchley Circle, when he saw a well-dressed woman walk down the street past homeless men, who stepped aside to let her through, and she never acknowledged them.

Garvey also stated that despite the album’s subdued tone, the record tries to find comfort in personal relationships. “My Trouble” and “On Deronda Road” are tributes to his wife and son, respectively, with the latter describing the happy memory of a bus journey Garvey made with his young son in south London, passing the Deronda Road bus stop. On closing track “Weightless” Garvey notes the similarities and connections between himself, his newborn son and his dying father, and said, “Jack’s arrival really helped me through Dad’s death, because it made Dad’s death part of things, rather than the end of things. And it made my own life part of things, rather than the point of things.”

 

 

 

Het achtste studio album van Elbow alweer. Sinds The Take Off and Landing Off Everything uit 2014, ben ik verknocht aan Elbow, en zeker het nummer  One Day Like This van hun album The Seldom Seen Kid uit 2008 is een meesterwerk, maar met elk nieuw album ben ik altijd een beetje bang dat het meer van hetzelfde zal zijn. Herhaling van een succesformule zie je namelijk veel. Gelukkig durft en weet Elbow toch telkens iets te vernieuwen en soms te verrassen. Zo ook op dit laatste album, al blijft het door de kenmerkende stem en de geweldige teksten van Guy onmiskenbaar Elbow. Ook dit album is daarop geen uitzondering en van grote klasse.

Fijne plaat. Divers, en boeiend. Ik denk niet dat hij me net zo gaat bijblijven als het indrukwekkende  The Take Off and Landing Of Everything, maar ontegenzeggelijk een heel goeie plaat. De zang is weer uitmuntend. Iets “kortere” songs . De muziek op dit album klinkt fris en doet denken aan Leaders of the free world en het al eerder genoemde TTOALOE. Iets rustiger misschien maar oh zo mooi.

En de vergelijking met Peter Gabriel blijft. En dat is een absoluut compliment !!!

My Trouble is wel een hoogtepuntje, net als beide eerder vrijgegeven nummers en The Delayed. Zeker die laatste ademt de echo van de wat vroegere Elbow uit. Veel van de liedjes blijven lang rondspoken; neem nou zo’n nummer als ‘Doldrums’ dat in mijn ogen echt bizar ondergewaardeerd wordt. Elbow heeft oinmiskenbaar een eigen en enorm herkenbaar geluid, maar op ‘Weightless’ denken ze opeens dat ze U2 zijn, dan wel met een goeie zanger uiteraard 😉

Ik geniet nog volop van dit album en van veel van zijn voorgangers, maar eerlijk gezegd kijk ik nu al weer uit naar de opvolger…….

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