This is the biggest little band that you’ve never heard of. Their passports say U.K., which may explain their lack of familiarity here in the States, but don’t jump the gun thinking that they are the next Coldplay or wannabe Beatles import. Elbow is a band that sooner takes their cues from Radiohead than the famous bowl cut foursome.
Despite playing together since 1990 their first album was not released until 2001 and the quintet did not appear on the radar of American pop culture until songs from their 4th studio release The Seldom Seen Kid started appearing in television ads. Lead singer Guy Garvey doesn’t possess the smoke and alcohol singed drawl that has been the voice of rockers in recent years. However, Elbow masters the anthemic single alongside the solemn ballad with considerably more creativity than your average occupant of the Top 40.
Their music is rich in texture, which works in harmony with Garvey’s unique timbre and candid lyrics evoking images of lost childhood days and unabashed hope for optimism from the masses. Present in the music is the drama of horns, the organ, abrasive percussion and enough of everything else in between to create a unique and beautiful melody.
This is a band that has plenty of appeal to a pop music ear. They follow up the successful, Mercury Prize winning album The Seldom Seen Kid with 2011’s Build a Rocket Boys! and are primed to discover an even larger audience.
If you like: Coldplay, U2, Florence and the Machine, Editors
Check out: Elbow (start with Seldom Seen Kid, continue with Build a Rocket Boys! and graduate to Asleep in the Back)
Feeling brave: Genesis (the Peter Gabriel years), Talk Talk, Blur, Stereophonics
AI level: Beginner