2016 was a particularly emotional and sorrowful year, from celebrity deaths to election results, particularly in the Anglo-American sphere of things. Manchester’s Elbow are very British, but in an emotional way that has never really been appreciated about the nation, ever since the Victorians seemingly defined the country. Latest release Little Fictions is another exquisite piece of emotions, both grand and intimate.
Once again, Elbow manage to reach the listener in ways both big and small. Opener “Magnificent (She Says)” is beautifully and powerfully evocative, while “Trust the Sun” brings restrained loss. In between comes single “Gentle Storm”, which manages to have effective, touching power, whether stripped or expansive. Singer Guy Garvey laments the anti-foreign sentiment that has grown in not just Britain on “K2”, preferring newcomers to Fleet Street, but also gives an elegy for music mattering with “All Disco”. There are more percussion-based pieces such as “Head for Supplies” and the title track, but Little Fictions ends with the very English acceptance of sadness with the wistful “Kindling”.
Elbow’s take on life may always keep them firmly on their side of the pond in terms of popularity – though will likely get a boost after recruiting Inspector Doctor Sherlock Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, for the simple video for “Gentle Storm” that actually makes one more appreciate the song:
Whatever is the case of things on either side of the Atlantic, Elbow are an excellent band making sad, excellent music.