Elbow: Leaders of the Free World
It’s been a few years since I listened to Elbows third release (Feb2006 for the US), Leaders of the Free World. There are several great tunes here, including the title track, Mexican Standoff, and the opener, Station Approach. For Elbow fans, there’s a lot to love.
Some of these tracks are simply huge. Take Station Approach as example:
It opens with shakers and an acoustic that immediately establish an irresistible forward momentum. The band continues to layer piano and guitars that float on this mid-tempo pulse. I love this kind of tune. As the lyric pattern becomes more circular, the tension mounts, and when the drums and edgy guitars finally drop in I’m riding that wave.
Unfortunately, the recording is somewhat harsh. It feels like it was recorded in a large space, which is cool, though with a mid-range glare, high-end grain and general lack of bass, it loses some impact. I’ve got the 45rpm vinyl pressing from 2012, and the digital (WAV) files that were included.
As you’d expect from the band, the tunes range from the massive opener to quiet introspection. I like this record a lot, but it pales against the prior release and the beast that is The Seldom Seen Kid.