I am a fan of Elbow and have been since A Cast of Thousands, so listening to their fourth LP I might be slightly biased towards the "drinking man's Coldplay", a tag I detest more every time I hear it. Their last album, born of the tours that almost ripped the band apart, was slightly disjointed and flowed jarringly, but still had the epic and warm feeling mixed with a sense of Guy Garvey smoking, creased suit jacket, and a guitar, writing musings on the world.
This time the band have produced the album themselves, and this increases the warmth of the record as you know that every guitar string, echo, synth and organ are all there for a reason as it adds to the music, and the sound levels will be perfect for telling the story that the band had dreamed of when writing the music. And, while it is not a concept album with a story per se, there is a feeling that each track is a chapter in a tale wrapped within the soaring strings, grungy bass lines and melodies so pure and well crafted the album is closing in on perfection.
At least, after the first six tracks, we are there. Mirrorball is sublime in the purest way possible, with a piano sprinkling and a high to low vocal track that tugs at my heart with every word. The single, Grounds for Divorce, thunders in at a pace unmatched on the album but fits with the rest of the slower, quieter, smoother edges, and it tugs at you jacket. Running outside into the sun, to have you jacket caught by the door handle and that single moment where you smile and think how the world works, Grounds for Divorce is one the stand out tracks, but the opener, Starling, has to take the title of one of the best Elbow songs ever. An Audience with the Pope and The Fix (with Richard Hawley appearing) are also shining lights on this record.
In summation, The Seldom Seen Kid is a contender for Album of the Year, along with 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons. The "drinking man's Coldplay" they are not, unless the drink is White Wine, Whisky, and possibly tap water.