British band ELBOW shows a transatlantic side with its latest album.
“I love arriving in a city where I’m a stranger,” says Guy Garvey, frontman of the British band Elbow, during a phone call from New York. The emotive singer wrote lyrics for the band’s recently released sixth album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Concord Music Group/Fiction Records, $16), during a previous sojourn in the Big Apple. “I’m fairly anonymous in the U.S.,” Garvey says, “so I get to sit in diners and bars and watch people and scribble notes like I used to be able to do in the U.K. and Europe.”
Back home in England, Elbow is so popular that the press has dubbed it “the people’s band.” Its breakthrough record, The Seldom Seen Kid, won Britain’s prestigious Mercury Music Prize in 2008. That album’s celebratory single, “One Day Like This,” became a sing-along national anthem. “Thousands and thousands and thousands of people got married to that song,” Garvey says. The BBC consequently commissioned Elbow to write an official soundtrack for the 2012 Olympic Games.
On the new album, Elbow nudges into progressive-rock territory. The Take Off and Landing of Everything features dense textures, dynamic tempo shifts and a lengthy song trilogy about escaping to New York. It was partially inspired by the self-exile of another British songwriter, John Lennon, and his famous girlfriend, Yoko Ono.
“They’re mentioned in the song ‘New York Morning.’ ‘It’s the modern Rome and the folk are nice to Yoko,’ is the lyric,” says Garvey, who finds New Yorkers much friendlier than their reputation would suggest.
With this song and Elbow’s latest record, Garvey might find that his band won’t be anonymous in the U.S. for long.