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Leaders of the Free World [Bonus DVD]
     

Leaders of the Free World [Bonus DVD]

by Elbow
 

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Elbow make magisterial epics of prog-rock proportions that nonetheless feel intimate, like an overheard conversation. This tightrope walk between the overblown and the underplayed is handled deftly by frontman Guy Garvey, whose delicate but world-weary voice is perfectly attuned to his the band's stratosphere-reaching melodies. After the somewhat sluggish 2003 album,

Overview

Elbow make magisterial epics of prog-rock proportions that nonetheless feel intimate, like an overheard conversation. This tightrope walk between the overblown and the underplayed is handled deftly by frontman Guy Garvey, whose delicate but world-weary voice is perfectly attuned to his the band's stratosphere-reaching melodies. After the somewhat sluggish 2003 album, Cast of Thousands, the band built a studio in their Manchester, England, home where they could work on music at their own pace and on their own dime. That relaxed atmosphere and creative freedom has paid off in spades with their best album yet. While the songs on Leaders of the Free World bear Elbow's unmistakable stamp, the band sound reenergized, giving lift to their usual somber tone. Things begin unassumingly with "Station Approach," a song about coming home that builds from delicately picked acoustic guitar into a giant, beautiful, crashing thing. The group dip into politics for the first time on the chugging title track, comparing presidents and prime ministers to "little boys throwing stones." Garvey is more at home, however, with matters of the heart. "My Very Best" finds him dejected but keeping up a brave face; "Mexican Standoff" imagines a love triangle as a gang rumble, complete with handclaps straight out of West Side Story's "America." The album's finest moment comes with "The Everthere," where Garvey hopes to find someone to grow old with: "If I lose a sequin here and there / More salt than pepper in my hair / Can I rely on you / When all the songs are through / To be for me the everthere?" With beautiful little moments like that -- of which there are many here -- let's just hope the songs aren't through for Elbow any time soon.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
When Doves headed to the studio for the recording of their third album, 2005's Some Cities, they returned home to Manchester. With that kind of scenic inspiration and emotional attachment, Some Cities resulted in Doves' best of their career at that moment. It is mere coincidence that their musical mates, Elbow, have done the same for their third album, Leaders of the Free World. Such a coincidence is a bit comforting in the respect that Elbow do not stray from what they have previously done. Despite being cast as a gloomy bunch on their first two albums -- 2001's Asleep in the Back and 2004's Cast of Thousands -- Elbow trudge on as an emotional band. Singer/songwriter Guy Garvey doesn't wallow in failed relationships as much as he enjoys being cynical and playful about the world around him. Sure, Elbow's more melodic, pensive moments such as "The Stops" and "The Everthere" are classic heartbreakers, with piano-driven melodies lush in melancholic acoustic guitars and Garvey's somber disposition. Leaders of the Free World really comes to life when Elbow give in, allowing these songs to grow into something glorious. Album opener "Station Approach" and "Forget Myself" are brilliant examples of this. "Forget Myself" metaphorically points fingers at a media-obsessed culture that is equally blasé about its own issues. Garvey throws his hands in the air, sighing to himself to "look for a plot where I can bury my broken heart." The album's title track also criticizes a very questionable political system, demanding, "I need to see the Commander in Chief and remind what was passed on to me" as a storm of electric guitars mirrors an anxious, waxing delivery by the band itself -- "Passing the gun from father to feckless son, we're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Elbow are a great band regardless of what it takes for them to find their footing. Leaders of the Free World is a bit more rock & roll than not, with guts and heart, because Elbow have finally embraced their powerful, surrounding space this time out. [The U.S. version includes a limited-edition DVD of videos for each song on Leaders of the Free World

Product Details

Release Date:
02/21/2006
Label:
V2 North America
UPC:
0638812729828
catalogNumber:
27298

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