Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Staff Pick - Leaders of the Free World by Elbow

Kirsten Boothman, self-proclaimed New Wave aficionado and lover of R.E.M. and Coldplay chose this week’s staff pick, a band who opened for Coldplay on their last tour.  Elbow are a British electro-pop alt rock band formed in 1990.  Sounding like a cross between Coldplay and James Mercer’s new two piece Broken Bells, Kirsten recommended their third album Leaders of the Free World released in 2005.  Overall, the album was great with some tracks standing out as downright phenomenal including the single “Forget Myself” (my personal favorite) and the lead in track “Station Approach” which builds and builds until breaking into a poppy alternative sound very reminiscent of early Coldplay infused with some Oasis sounding guitar riffs.  Many tracks have a very haunting and melodic sound with some backing piano and muted acoustic accompaniment such as “Picky Bugger” and “An Imagined Affair” which could be off the Shins debut album Oh Inverted World.  Still others have some raging alt guitar such as “Mexican Standoff”, by far the heaviest on the record.  At the same time, the second single, title track “Leaders of the Free World” sounds like it should be a bonus track on Broken Bell’s debut eponymous album.  Elbow in many ways continues in the vein of Brit-pop groups like Oasis and Blur with a much softer feel and tracks which sound like classical infused British New Wave.  All in all, the album was really fun and kept me guessing which for me is crucial when listening to a new group.  If I lose interest after the first few tracks it’s difficult to keep going all the way through the album but I didn’t have any issue listening to Leaders of the Free World in its entirety.  The songs differ enough from track to track to keep you wanting more.  I’ll be checking out Elbow’s other albums soon as the band is perfect for this time of year.  The soft, alt-acoustic ballads and poppy electro infused guitar songs are great for sunny fall drives.  Most definitely a great pick.

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