Elbow’s Build a Rocket Boys! provides shared experience for listeners
By Sean Keenehan
Chameleon Staff Writer
If you are not familiar with this band from Manchester, England, it is well worth the time and effort to research their equally impressive back catalog.
Although their fame in the U.S. has been rather humble, this is not a bad thing as Elbow is, a great band.
Build a Rocket Boys! was self-produced by Elbow and released in spring of 2011.
Singer Guy Garvey narrates a wounded, nostalgia as he revisits his adolescent youth on the gray and tough street corners of Manchester. Through the joys and pains of apparent love lost, it can be difficult to decipher if Garvey is reliving stories of relationships (“Jesus is a Rochdale Girl”), battles in the schoolyard (“Lippy Kids”), or losses of loved ones (“The River”).
Deeper than anxiety, these are the types of obsessive loves that wake you up and haunt you in the middle of the night. This loss is never expressed more eloquently than in the fragile silence of “The Night Will Always Win,” when Garvey, giving into the night, sings, “The night, has darkness on its side.”
The 11 songs on Build a Rocket Boys! seem to provide Elbow a much needed therapeutic healing through auditory shared experience.
For Guy Garvey, lyrics such as “Same tale every time, looking back is for the birds” (“The Birds”) and “We’ve got open arms for broken hearts, like yours my boy, come home again. Everone’s here” (“Open Arms”), demand, and assume, that his band, and the listener alike, know exactly where he is coming from.
On the last track on the album, “Dear Friends”, Garvey blatantly turns to his friends and listeners for support, “you stuck a pin in the map I was in and you are the stars I navigate home by.”
Although dark and solemn at times, Build a Rocket Boys! is far from an album full of gloom and doom. On the contrary, beauty shines bright through huge, majestic lights of joy and un-relentless hope: “these adventures will fill your eyes With Love” (“With Love”).
Build a Rocket Boys! tells a story that is touching, poignant and beyond emotionally dynamic. Orchestrations, including strings, swirling guitars and the Halle Youth Choir, provide tension and relief. From a whisper to a shout, Elbow transforms moments of youthful innocence into epic swells of pint-in-hand, corner English pub sing-alongs.
On Build a Rocket Boys!, Elbow embody a sentiment that things will be okay. Come heal and share your pain with other people who have been there.
Elbow reminds the listener that all of these experiences are necessary for building strength and character. Build a Rocket Boys! is not about growing up, but about being a grown up.
Key tracks include: “Neat Little Rows,” “Lippy Kids,” “Open Arms,” and “With Love.”
To contact Sean Keenehan, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.