For a little over a decade, Elbow have been quietly, consistently plugging away. The “next Radiohead” tag that accompanied them and a number of other bands that emerged from the era is long gone, and their brethren in bands like Coldplay, Muse and Doves have gone in wildly different directions. Yet Elbow has remained in their corner, and revisiting them reveals that not only are they the most tasteful band of the bunch, they’ve only steadily developed the sound they unveiled on 2002’s still-stunning Asleep at the Wheel
. Their sixth album makes nods toward the early post-rock of Talk Talk or even prog-rock, exploring atmosphere over longer song lengths without losing sight of concrete songcraft. “Fly Boy Blue / Lunette” is a beautiful suite that slowly blossoms in its second half, with a pulsating beat and Guy Garvey’s rough, heartfelt tenor. “New York Morning” approaches Peter Gabriel territory with a soaring, multitracked chorus. And the title track finds the band doing what they do best—creating grandiose, sweeping epics—as stately piano and electric guitar build a foundation for Garvey’s vocals to launch continuously. While The Take Off and Landing of Everything
doesn’t mess with their formula too much, the good news is if you liked Elbow before, there’s a lot to love on their masterful sixth album.