The Manchester band has gone through a few changes in the past few years. Singer Guy Garvin made the transatlantic move to New York a few years ago before getting married and the band have parted ways with drummer Richard Jupp. The band’s seventh studio release and first since 2014 continues their Oasis meets Coldplay meets Radiohead meets The Doves sound – introspection and a bit melancholy with a touch of the anthemic.
The driving strings and dramatic chorus swells on “Magnificent (She Says)” are a particular highlight in what could almost be a James Bond theme. Underneath a slow burning 80’s style R n B jam there is a great percussive beat that propels “Gentle Storm”. A smart producer will use this at some point and feature a soulful female singer to sing the wonderful “fall in love with me… everyday” line. The poetic and understated guitar make “Head for Supplies” a lovely little tune while “K2” performs a similar feat with more of a drum beat and a political bent to the lyrics.
This is my third Elbow album of the last four and I’m not sure if it’s better than the others but I seem to like it more (a revisit of past work is definitely in order). Songs average just under five minutes each and at times can blend into one another. But there is a beauty in the lyrics that at times reflect the joy in Garvey’s recent marriage to actress Rachael Stirling and the welcoming of their first child earlier this year. “Then my telephone shakes into life and I see your name, the wheat fields explode into gold on either side of the train” This is a strong album for a band this late into their career.
“You know what I like thinking about? I’ve lived every friggin’ moment of my life to get to look at you leaning on your hand. To get that smile just now. To hear whatever you’re thinking, to be in the room while you thought it. It’s taken every split second of my life to get here. And here we are.”
GQ June, 2017
After moving to London from her native North Wales, Kelly Lee Owens interned at XL Records and worked at trendy record shops across the city. A few years ago, she began contributing vocals to friend’s releases before moving on to creating her tracks as well as a Jenny Hval remix for “Kingsize”. Already in 2017 Owens snagged our coveted favourite song of the week spot a few months ago for “Anxi.”(!!) and the full self-titled album does not disappoint.
Owens eases into the album with two minimal ambient tracks before the cold wave intro of single “Anxi.”, featuring Jenny Hval on vocals, ups the BPM. There is a hands in the air moment when the beat on “Evolution” kicks in at the 49 second mark while “Cbm” is just a step behind in terms of getting people moving. The ghostly vocal of “Lucid” gives the track an icy ethereal quality.
The atmospheric album closers “Keep Walking” and “8” have enough of a pop feel that could qualify Owens as a more techno version of Grimes. Like Grimes, this debut touches on numerous styles (techno, ambient, pop, indie rock, etc) and excels in nearly all of them. An electronic album that crosses over to the indie rock world, this is one of the highlights of the first half of 2017.