They're now in their 22nd year of existence, but Elbow's success has been a slow-burner over the past two decades.
The Manchester band broke through to the mainstream with their fourth album 'The Seldom Seen Kid' in 2008 and have been filling arenas and headlining festivals pretty much ever since.
With their eighth studio album 'Giants of All Sizes' released today, it's the perfect opportunity to cast an eye over Guy Garvey and co.'s discography to date – and pick ten of what we reckon are their best songs.
In no particular order...
1. 'POWDER BLUE'
Elbow's debut album 'Asleep in the Back' remains a criminally underrated record – primarily because of stunners like this song. With a thrilling sense of experimentation (incidentally, that's echoed in 'Giants of All Sizes') running throughout the tracklist, this remains one of the band's best songs.
2. 'LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD'
The politically-charged title track of their third album is a compelling indie-rock number with lyrics written in 2005, but as prescient than ever, 14 years on... 'The leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones / And it's easy to ignore 'til they're knocking on the door of your home'...
3. 'GRACE UNDER PRESSURE'
A sweeping, elegant indie anthem for the ages, this was taken from the band's second album 'Cast of Thousands' – which saw their talent for huge, festival-driven singalongs start to peek through. The outro, with its chorus of 'We still believe in love, so f**k you...' was even recorded at Glastonbury.
4. 'GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE'
Possibly their best-known song, but arguably not their best one – yet it's still an absolute banger. Elbow are that rare beast; so much more than some cult indie act, yet also capable of churning out more than just big indie landfill anthems. This song married both sides beautifully.
5. 'FORGET MYSELF'
Another track taken from 'Leaders of the Free World', it sounded like Elbow were beginning to realise their full potential around now. This quirky little number bursts into life with a glorious chorus that makes you want to raise your arms and sing it from the rooftops.
As wonderful as they are at those big anthems, Elbow's capacity for tenderness can't be understated, either. This is undoubtedly one of the best love songs of the 21st century; written by Garvey about his then-girlfriend, author Emma-Jane Unsworth, it perfectly captures that all-encompassing feeling of falling head over heels for someone.
7. 'THE BIRDS'
How do you go about following up the biggest album of your career? If you're Elbow, you lead with a song like this. The opening track of 2011's 'Build a Rocket Boys!' set out the band's intent with this gorgeous number, which managed to be both intriguingly ominous and sweepingly, majestically beautiful.
8. 'FUGITIVE MOTEL'
By now, it's clear that we have a soft spot for 'Cast of Thousands' – but this song is such a wonderful example of both Garvey's poetic turn of phrase and ability to paint a vivid scene (“The curtains stay closed, but everyone knows / You hear through the walls in this place / Cigarette holes for every lost soul, to give up the ghost in this place”) and his bandmates' melodic capabilities.
Like 'Powder Blue', this song (also taken from their debut 'Asleep in the Back') takes off in an unexpectedly proggy direction, throwing a major curveball from the track that the softly-strummed intro suggests. If you've ever heard it played live, you'll be aware that it's one of the most powerful numbers in their canon - and who could possibly dislike a song that opens with the darkly comic line 'I'll be the corpse in your bathtub... useless'?
10. 'ONE DAY LIKE THIS'
You're either in the 'still love it' or 'can't stand it' camp with this song; clearly, it's been played to death over the past decade, and you've definitely attended at least one wedding where it's featured heavily. Still, it's not hard to see why – overplayed it may be, but it remains a gorgeous song. The epic swell of strings; that goosebump-invoking chorus of voices, and the way the song builds to a crescendo. You'd have to have a heart of stone to not be moved by Guy Garvey's genuine sentiment.
'Giants of All Sizes' is out now. Elbow play Dublin's 3Arena on March 28th 2020.