Album Review: Elbow – build a rocket boys!

By on Tuesday, 10th May 2011 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: Yes, we realise the new Elbow was released a while back. The dust has settled since all those other reviews…and now you can read John’s.

When Jools Holland presented Elbow with the 2008 Mercury Music Prize for their album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, the band went from being a cult band from Manchester to UK superstars. Little did they know that album would earn them support slots at Wembley Stadium along with plaudits from the entire music community.

Their 4th full record ‘build a rocket boys!’ was obviously going to be hotly anticipated. When first single ‘Lippy Kids’ hit YouTube, it was obvious that those boys from Manchester hadn’t lost it, they’d grown from their experiences and were ready to come out with a truly wonderful album. Elbow’s warm-faced frontman Guy Garvey has always been one to reminisce and look back on childhood in his songs, and ‘build a rocket boys!’ is another album that is heavily influenced by the process of growing up. The most poignant lyrics of ‘Lippy Kids’ are, in fact, relating to that and from where the album’s title ‘build a rocket boys!’ is taken.


The album opens with epic 8-minute long ‘The Birds.’ Now, a length of anything longer than 5 minutes I will normally discard as unnecessary and annoying. Not this. Yes, it took me 3 or 4 listens to truly enjoy ‘The Birds’; however, after that I couldn’t stop. ‘build a rocket boys!’ is one of those albums that you have to really listen to in order to fully appreciate. You can’t have it on while you drive and truly appreciate it in my opinion: trust me, I tested this, it’s not driving music.

The highlight of the album comes in the form of single ‘Open Arms’ (watch the video here), though it should be noted this isn’t really a singles album. It’s a record which is all about growing and highlights Elbow’s extraordinary talent for telling stories and writing spellbindingly beautiful lyrics. Their talent for writing is highlighted in ‘Neat Little Rows’ (single review here), as Garvey uses his signature gruff tones to paint a virulent image.

So after ‘build a rocket boys!’ what now for Elbow? A slot under Muse at Reading festival and opening for Coldplay at Glastonbury is what the summer brings, and after an extremely successful arena tour this spring, it’s certain that Elbow are a band that will be here to stay.


‘build a rocket boys!’ is available now from Fiction Records.

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[…] what Elbow are to the UK and with their new record ‘Turn Blue’, I feel they are having their ‘build a rocket boys!’ after the success of their ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ – the incredibly successful and incessantly […]

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