"The energy and buoyancy never sacrifice Elbow's innate knack for emotional impact": Elbow sound reinvigorated on Audio Vertigo

Ten albums in, Elbow continue to surprise

Elbow: Audio Vertigo cover art
(Image: © Polydor)

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In contrast to the gentle neoprog of 2021’s Flying Dream 1, Elbow’s return to action is wild, sweaty fun, like Tigger on a trampoline. It’s grating that some label them an ersatz Coldplay, as their music over a quarter of a century has always dug deeper and wider. 

This album, with influences from Marc Bolan to Tom Waits worn lightly, squeezes their reanimated pleasure zones. Lovers Leap builds from a marriage of War’s Low Rider with David Bowie’s Look Back In Anger, while the boisterous Balu has Guy Garvey’s typically astute lyrics floating over heavy, hungry swirls of rhythm. Knife Fight is a tasty slice of swagger.

The energy and buoyancy never sacrifice Elbow’s innate knack for emotional impact, as Garvey sings with poetic accuracy of the abyss, various hallelujahs and the meaning of love.

At the end of the sawtoothed rock of Good Blood Mexico City, he lets rip with an involuntary “Woo!” It’s justified.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.