Single Review: Elbow – Neat Little Rows

By on Thursday, 17th February 2011 at 12:00 pm

It seems like a lifetime ago that Elbow won the 2008 Mercury Prize for ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ – still one of my favourite albums of all time. I bought it from a Fopp’s in Nottingham and it’s never far from my CD player. But it is now 2011, and we’ve had Gaga, Rihanna, Jedward and a whole slew of other artists and their background noise to contend with. No wonder Elbow’s upcoming fifth album, ‘build a rocket boys!’ is so highly anticipated.

Recorded at Blueprint Studios in Manchester, the new album comes out on the 7th of March. We heard and watched the Mancunian stalwarts play ‘Lippy Kids’ live, but here is the first official single released from the new album. It’s called ‘Neat Little Rows’ and will be released on 28 February on 7? and digital formats.

My first impression: this has a down and dirty vibe, similar to ‘Grounds for Divorce’. There’s something sinister going down in there. While it has largely been ‘reported’ by many bands from the area and even the Guardian’s Indie Professor, the gloominess of your environs (in this case, are often responsible for your musical output. The high point is the banging piano brought out in the chorus, bright and brassy, in direct counterpoint to the otherwise darkness of Guy Garvey’s vocals (“drown me now in down of fire / get me to black” and “lay my bones on cobblestones / lay my bones in neat little rows” – um, yes, just a little bit morbid?) and the droning guitars and drums on the track.

The promo video for the song is below, and yes, I’m a bit disappointed because it would have been so much better as a ‘story’ video rather than straight performance. But, it has to be said, Garvey is quite a charismatic frontman. And there’s no doubt this single – and the new album – will do incredibly well.



Elbow will be playing live on an arena tour of the UK in March.

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