After struggling for recognition for well over a decade, few could have predicted the level of success 'The Seldom Seen Kid' would achieve for Elbow, a band who now have no trouble packing out stadiums throughout the UK and Ireland. Its follow up may not contain an anthem to match the sing-a-long quality of 'One Day Like This' or a kick-ass hook to top 'Grounds for Divorce', but what it does have is eleven elegant, wistful and spellbindingly beautiful songs that leave you utterly entranced.
Though the scale of 'Build A Rocket Boys!' may seem miniscule in comparison to its predecessor, the Manchester band's fifth album is still a lush and varied landscape of careful orchestration juxtaposed with understated acoustic melodies. Eight minute slow-burner 'The Birds' is a brave opening, its apparent repetition broken up by an almost futuristic synth line before expanding to reach a dense, pulsating climax. It is followed swiftly by the delicate keyboard intro of 'Lippy Kids', a song that truly comes in to its own when Guy Garvey is joined by a weightless, flowing choir, as in sync as if they sang with one effortlessly homogenised voice.
One of their most valuable assets, Garvey's voice is as deliciously sumptuous as ever, his homely tones as comforting as a loved one's shoulder. It is at its most potent where it takes centre stage among minimal instrumentation, as on 'Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl', or when it acts as a medium for such ominous lines as "the night has darkness on its side" on 'The Night Will Always Win'. And yet, when he wants to, Garvey can just as easily render furious seething, as on the thundering 'Neat Little Rows'. Even by their already high standards, 'Build A Rocket Boys!' is an album Elbow can be proud of for a long time to come.