From the opening of The Birds it's clear Guy Garvey and co aren't resting on their laurels and the success of 2008's Seldom Seen Kid. There's more innovation here than we've previously had, but it's all still built around beautifully crafted tunes and Garvey's voice.
Elbow are the Coldplay it's ok to like. Maybe it's about being northern. Maybe it's just they're better at making music you can genuinely connect to. The song writing is on another level though and the quite wonderfully simple Lippy Kids, which yes, I may have mentioned a few times, stands as one of the great songs of this or any decade.
But there are other highlights too. Neat Little Rows, with its references to cobble stones and the chiming, almost thumping chorus is another example of Garvey taking you somewhere else with his words. There's a world weariness to it all, but a knowing smile too, as if Garvey is saying, 'Yeah, I am kind of old now and a little grumpy some mornings, but, hey, the suns out, let's go kick a ball around the rec.'
High Ideals and The River are full of warmth and melancholy and that's always been Elbow's great trick, you feel sad and happy at the same time as you listen, Garvey opening a door to his life as he sings.
Open Arms is almost on a par with Lippy Kids, it's going to be an incredible live track, and you can almost hear a festival crowd singing along with Garvey as it plays, but every track as its own identity, its own sense of purpose and weight of delivery.
I can't help but wish I'd been a fly on the wall when Chris Martin sat and listened to Build a Rocket Boys! for the first time, his reaction could have only been one thing: 'Fuck.'
Everyone needs this album in their life. It's not gonna have you dancing around the lounge, but will have you sat, lost in Elbow's world. It's a good place to go visit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★