In the music spotlight: Elbow



Since the release of 2001 album “Asleep in the Back,” Manchester, England-based band Elbow have created a catalog full of spacious an elegant arrangements, led by the velvet-and-nicotine tones of singer Guy Garvey. The band’s sound has garnered favorable comparisons to pop mavericks Talk Talk and trendsetters Radiohead, alongside groundbreakers including Genesis and its former frontman Peter Gabriel. However, the band exists in a league of its own. Even Gabriel himself has affectionately covered Elbow’s 2008 swooning single “Mirrorball,” arguably the most romantic of songs by this most romantic of bands. Also consider a feature run by Salon magazine this summer. The story was pointedly titled, “The genius of Elbow, the band Coldplay wishes it could be.”

Elbow is currently touring behind its recent seventh album “Little Fictions.” The friendly departure of drummer and founding member Richard Jupp after 26 years forced the band to rethink its methods. New songs including understated gem “Gentle Storm” are were built atop loops and Craig Potter’s languid piano drones, creating textures more hypnotic and mesmerizing than ever before. “Fall in love with me every day,” pleads Garvey in the lyric, returning the band to tender matters of the heart following 2014’s comparatively turbulent “The Take Off and Landing of Everything.”

The optimistic “Magnificent (She Says)” is driven by Mark Potter’s restless guitar and Pete Turner’s bubbling counterpoint on bass. Garvey’s lyric observes the irrepressible spirit of a young girl who refuses to be bowed by the world. It’s the kind of inspirational anthem to which monolithic rockers U2 still aspire.

Despite big themes and king-sized musical statements, Elbow remain a group of relatable everymen. “All Disco” downplays the band’s grand reach and brings it down to earth, borrowing a sense of measured psychedelia from the Velvet Underground. “What does it prove if you die for a tune?” sings Garvey. “Don’t you know it’s all disco?” In a press release, Garvey refers to the song as a plea for balance and perspective. The sentiment is offered to artists who “give nearly everything to their art” but need to “remember their art is not everything.”

Presumably, someone at The Vic will hang a mirror ball above the stage in preparation for its namesake tune. If so, the band members can stand ready to call their lush and starlit music disco, or anything else they like.

* Elbow, with C Duncan, 8 p.m. Nov. 8, Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. $35-$45 (18+over);

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.

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