Album Review: Elbow – Lost Worker Bee EP

By on Wednesday, 12th August 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Last month, Manchester favourites Elbow pleased their fans with the release of a new EP called ‘Lost Worker Bee’. The release came as somewhat of a surprise, as the band members have been busy of late with a handful of festival appearances (including Kendal Calling 2015) as well as their own “various solo projects and collaborative endeavours”, which include frontman Guy Garvey’s record label venture Snug Platters and his new BBC 6 Music series ‘Music Box with Guy Garvey’.  Of the ‘Lost Worker Bee’ EP, Garvey says “we just felt we really wanted to get something away to tide fans over until the next album. We’ve always loved the EP as a format and we’ve enjoyed making this one so much I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another before long.”

The four brand new songs on the EP are all set in Elbow’s hometown of Manchester. Garvey elaborates, “Manchester’s symbol has been the worker bee for hundreds of years and the lead track is about finding love far away from home.” Our own editor Mary featured the video for the eponymous and altogether charming ‘Lost Worker Bee’ just after the EP’s release.

The rhythmic complexity of ‘And It Snowed’ is a trademark of Elbow’s compositional style, expressed here in an asymmetrical meter that highlights the crystalline keyboard melody. The lyrics are a bit abstract, but the lines “you’ve done your leaving / livid in your splendour and alone / I kiss the stillness” seem to harken back to the lost romance theme of Elbow’s 2014 album ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, which dealt with Garvey’s split from his longtime partner.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/EbACcdrUjb8[/youtube]

In the captivating ‘Roll Call’, Garvey recycles a lyric, “streets alive with one man shows”, from ‘My Sad Captains’, a popular tune from ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’. He prefaces it with a bit of a wink and nod, warning that “I’m not digging deep tonight”, but in truth, his lyrics are as rife with evocative imagery as ever, and the vocal harmonies supplied by his bandmates in this chorus are just as rich and pleasantly unexpected.

Similarly, the EP’s final track ‘Usually Bright’ feels like an extension of Elbow’s previous album, with simple poetic lines alluding to separation as “the saddest journey ever made”. The spare musical accompaniment, which perhaps coincidentally sounds a bit like an old-fashioned music box, allows Garvey’s poignantly simple lyrics to make their full nostalgic impact, marking a clear delineation between the past and the potential of the future.

8.5/10

Elbow’s ‘Lost Worker Bee’ EP is out now on Polydor. Elbow are scheduled to play the On Blackheath Festival in London on the 12th of September. Our full catalogue of previous Elbow coverage is right back this way.

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