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Elbow: Build a Rocket Boys! (Fiction) 

Hailing from the town of Bury, located on Manchester, England's northwest side, Elbow have just released the follow-up to their 2008 Mercury Prize-winning album, The Seldom Seen Kid. The worthy successor, Build a Rocket Boys!, is largely autobiographical from vocalist and superb poet Guy Garvey's point of view; the themes this time around address the turmoil, experimentation and fleeting loves and losses of childhood.

Opening track "The Birds" is an epic eight-minute undulating, hypnotic introduction that swells into a glorious chorus, enveloping the listener with an undeniable sense of hope. "Lippy Kids" incorporates soft staccato piano work from keyboardist and album producer Craig Potter. His brilliant flourishes punctuate this album, making it far bolder than previous releases, bringing to the foreground the detail that previously took obsessed Elbow fans several times through to find.

"Neat Little Rows" contains the strongest pulse on the album. It's a lyrically intense track that finds the more youthful version of Garvey lamenting judgment for past blunders: "In the house where they grew you / there were secrets and mistakes / that the eyes that see through you / would give anything to erase."

The pace on the second half of the album slows considerably, allowing time for plenty of inward reflection. "Dear Friends" finds Elbow expressing gratitude to family and friends, and openly embracing their roots, while "Open Arms" provides a rapturous, anthemic chorus—and is sure to be a spectacular addition to the band's live shows.

More by Mel Mason

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