Britain has long made great tragic music, but as the times have gotten even more tragic, particularly there, the island has raised its game even further. Elbow have long been popular in their native Britain for their soaring sadness, but there’s always been a hint of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. Yet that tunnel has never seemed longer than these days, on Giants of All Sizes.
Written in the aftermath of the death of singer Guy Garvey’s father, as well as venue owners & friends-of-the-band Scott Alexander and Jan Oldenburg, Giants is a sorrowful record. There’s the hard Brexit divide on opener “Dexter & Sinister”, and elegy for not just Britain in the EU but the EU as a whole in “Empires”. “The Delayed 3:15” is the sad tale of a man who committed suicide by jumping in front of the train Garvey was on, while “White Noise White Heat” is a bigger call-out to those in power over the awful Grenfell Tower fire.
There is a ray of hope at the end of Giants of All Sizes in the glowing closer “Weightless”, hard-won hope. But Elbow are chronicling our tragic times.