"Audio Vertigo" - Elbow Album Review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


Audio Vertigo


“We live in a troubling age / But the world has given me arms for you.” Guy Garvey and company are back, with his comforting croon that sometimes takes from David Bowie, sometimes from Morrissey, but which is always all his British own. The latest album is called Audio Vertigo, and there is certainly something swirling about Elbow’s music: danceable beats, intricate guitars, blaring horns, and Harvey’s always acrobatic voice.

“If and when you cry / feed it to the flowers you’ll find along the way,” he sings on the final track of the album. The album is filled with rumination, gravity and escape. Like the opening tune, “Things I’ve Been Telling Myself For Years,” which finds Harvey imagining what his life would look like, if he and the band had parted ways. “I can read people, yeah / blushing peccadillos, twisted bents, and buried fears.” That is the wonder of Garvey’s songwriting and personality, his ability to take the sometimes heart breaking minutiae of life, and render it in culturally relevant and culture-making poetry.

I enjoyed their last album, Flying Dream 1, their pandemic record, so to speak. But this one is more danceable, more poetic, more soulful and less cloistered, altogether. It is “fluid,” something that lends itself to Harvey’s skillful, almost operatic voice. And though it is 40 minutes of expertly crafted tunes, it goes by in the blink of an eye.

Whether it is “Knife Fight,” with it’s Modest Mouse-like guitars, which takes us down the rougher roads of life, or “Good Blood Mexico City” with it’s Covet-like guitars, which finds Harvey, once again, making a tribute to an international city (like his hit single, “New York Morning”), there is a good deal of variation to the album, while remaining decidedly Elbow-sounding at the same time. It is full of musical ear worms and lyrical gems.

“Shake / shake / Spray our names / where we land / In your arms forevermore / take my hand,” Garvey sings on the album single, “Lover’s Leap.” It is an album to make your body move and your heart burn, though never with cliche, in sound or lyrics. Harvey is something of a sentimental soul, but manages to communicate it in a way that is “cool”, cutting his story, like a diamond, with many shining sides. “Now I lay me down to sleep / Take me up to Lover’s Leap.”

Where some bands and artists reinvent themselves in something of a reductive fashion, Elbow, a band of almost 30 years, is still firing at all cylinders and as big and bold as ever. There are single-worthy songs, there are deep cut-worthy songs on this album. But mostly, it works as cohesive whole, as an album of Audio Vertigo. Elbow are back!

Stream Audio Vertigo HERE.


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