Saturday, September 04, 2004

CD Review: Elbow - "Cast of Thousands"

This innovative band explores new territory on this album. I find the listening experience to be just as rewarding as their first CD "Asleep In The Back", but not as jarring. This is a smoother ride, and there are a couple of songs that are actually faster than mid-tempo ("Not a Job", "Fallen Angel"). The additions of a choir on two songs ("Ribcage", "Grace Under Pressure") and a brass section on "Lay Down Your Cross" create an expanded sound but doesn't seem pompous or cause the band to lose anything... rather, it creates yet another new feel. "Fugitive Motel" is a sad, beautifully arranged ballad which presses hard on the buttons of loneliness.

Besides these outstanding cuts, there are other great moments on this CD. Vocal harmonies are used to a very pleasing effect in many cuts; "Switching Off", "Crawling With Idiot" and "Whisper Grass" come to mind. While some are comparing the style of this CD to Peter Gabriel, I also find myself hearing things reminiscent of Pink Floyd, i.e. the drum and piano intro on "Whisper Grass" (this cut also contains some wonderful groaning/crying bursts of psychedelic guitar...)

I am very impressed with this band's inventiveness and willingness to try new things. "Asleep In The Back" is a great CD, so is this one. While this newer one may sound more accessible than the first one, the band does not lose much of what made their first disc great: Guy Garvey's understated, angelic voice; the lyrics which come from somewhere in the recesses of the mind and take the listener there; the rhythms and textures one will never hear on American mainstream radio; the nods to such greats as Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, and the patience and restraint exhibited in the arrangements... It's all here. Buy this CD, turn the lights down, sit back and enjoy!

2 Comments:

Blogger J. Marquis said...

I know you sent me some Elbow stuff a while back...was it this one or something older?

7:59 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

AWTY, I believe it was the first CD. The new one is more accessible, a much better listen.

9:30 PM  

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