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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 03.13.2014

My 2014 Reviews:
Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust EP [8.0]
Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0]
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0]
Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0]
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0]
You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5]
Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5]
Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0]
Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5]
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0]
The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0]
Skindred - Kill the Power [7.0]
Katy B - Little Red [9.0]
The Family Rain - Under the Volcano [7.0]
Clare Maguire - Clare Maguire EP [7.0]
Behemoth - The Satanist [7.0]
Wild Beasts - Present Tense [10.0]
Beck - Morning Phase [9.5]
Issues - Issues [7.0]
Fanfarlo - Let's Get Extinct [4.0]
The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever [3.5]
Indica - Shine [5.0]
Grand Magus - Triumph and Power [6.0]
Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide [9.0]
††† (Crosses) - ††† (Crosses) [6.5]
Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron [8.0]
Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0]
Silversun Pickups - The Singles Collection [8.0]
The Fray - Helios [4.0]
Kid Cudi - Satellite Flight: Journey to Mother Moon [9.0]
Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0]
We Are Scientists - TV En Francais [6.5]
Major Lazer - Apocalypse Soon [2.0]
Rick Ross - Mastermind [7.5]
Real Estate - Atlas [8.5]
Comeback Kid - Die Knowing [7.0]
Reverend and the Makers ThirtyTwo [8.5]
Broken Bells - After the Disco [6.0]
Blood Red Shoes - Blood Red Shoes [5.5]
Metronomy - Love Letters [9.0]

Elbow is:
Guy Garvey – vocals
Mark Potter – guitar
Pete Turner – bass
Craig Potter – keyboard
Richard Jupp – drums

ElbowThe Take Off and Landing of Everything

Track listing:
1. This Blue World
2. Charge
3. Fly Boy Blue/Lunette
4. New York Morning
5. Real Life (Angel)
6. Honey Sun
7. My Sad Captains
8. Colour Fields
9. The Take Off and Landing of Everything
10. The Blanket of Night
Running time: 56:51

“It's to do with the fact that there have been [so many] life events. There are five members of the band—people have split up, got together, had children. It never stops, this stuff. Especially round the [age of] 40 mark... and yet I wanted to remain celebratory about that. Everybody's feeling relief, with remorse, next to joy, next to loss.” Guy Garvey explains the meaning of Elbow's latest offering with the wisdom of man who is known for putting out deep records that offer meaning on a number of levels. The Take Off and Landing of Everything is another all-encompassing record that touches on plenty of real life experiences and as such has a remarkable knack for being relatable. This is notable on the record's opening romantic gesture, “This Blue World” contemplates the idea of destiny intending Garvey and his lover's chance encounter before coming to terms with the reality of the relationship's end. It's this kind of honesty and openness that will ensure the record appeals to a wide spectrum of music lover.

The break up with his long-term girlfriend casts a chilling shadow over the album as a whole. It's melancholy in places and uplifting in others, but lyrically it's always interesting. Garvey takes the romanticism for which he is well known and transfer is to his love affair with New York City (“New York Morning”), another overarching theme of the record. The depressive and regretful tones are also felt in the album's highlight “My Sad Captains,” as Garvey attempts to re-recruit his old drinking buddies for one last hurrah. It's Edgar Wright's 2013 comedy epic The World's End, without the humorous elements. Elsewhere, as per usual, Garvey and co. fail to resist the temptation to touch on politics, this time calling the UK's political parties to the stand to examine their respective stances of immigration. In its themes and sentiment, The Take Off and Landing of Everything is everything we've come to expect and admire about Elbow.

With all this in mind, the question has to be asked where exactly this album fails, because fail it does. The Take Off and Landing of Everything is album number six from Elbow, and it's yet another sign that the band has fallen comfortably into something of a rut. With numerous Mercury nominations, the band's chops was never in question, but along with their gradual progression towards the top of festivals came a sense that it would become all too easy for the band to play it safe. Their hit “One Day Like This” became a global anthem with more than a little help from the 2012 London Olympics, making the next album something that needed to avoid disappointing more than in needed to surprise and inspire. Considering not just their Northern roots but their love for where they come from, it's a little bizarre to have seen them become the unofficial musical face of England's South during the Olympics, and it's even more peculiar to hear Garvey singing lovingly about New York's vast delights. But that's as far-reaching as the record gets, not once daring to write anything even remotely new or original. “Charge” is the closest we get, attempting the much less travelled road of a heavier Elbow. But rather than sounding fresh and exciting, even that is a limp attempt that falls flat.

It is of course hard to deny Guy Garvey's ear for a beautifully poetic lyric, and it's even harder not to be moved by his various emotional outbursts. But I'll be damned if it isn't something we've all heard before, and while some of it is still brimming with charm, it's beginning to become the kind of charm old people have the allows them to get away with saying anything they like with n repercussions, regardless of offence caused. The irony here is the lack of anything offensive is what holds back the record – there's nothing jaw-dropping, nothing that will leave you in awe and nothing that will even stick with you after the record's end, outside of a poignant lyric or two. And at an hour in running time, and many of the tracks hitting the six or seven minute mark, it becomes a chore to sit through The Take Off and Landing of Everything in a solitary sitting. You can't fault the band for making music that is so blissfully easy on the ear. Friendly and familiar are the compassionate sounds of the band's sixth offering, but it's a record that cements the band as one everyone can admire yet no one truly adores.

Elbow - “New York Morning”

The 411: Never did I think I would be so critical about Elbow's newest record, The Take Off and Landing of Everything, but alas here we are. The record is as soulful as anything Guy Garvey and co. have ever put on the table, and there are some moments of lyrical intricacy that touches on the details of human existence in ways no other artist could accomplish. But the overwhelming feeling off the back of this record is one of disappointment. Not necessarily disappointment at the quality of material on offer, but disappointment that the band fails once again to really push the envelope in any noticeable manner. Instead Elbow has opted to play it desperately safe. As far as Elbow record's go, The Take Off and Landing of Everything is standard fare, but even that's leagues ahead of other artists out there, so it's not all bad.
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend


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