As I Am Kloot return to the fray with their fifth album, Sky at Night, maybe it's time for some of Elbow's magic dust to fall on one of the lesser lights of their home town.
Back in 2008, Guy Garvey's mob hit the big time when fourth album The Seldom Seen Kid earned them the Mercury Prize. Soon after, music pundits wondered if Elbow's commercial success and critical acclaim would mean greater recognition for that peculiarly north-western strain of dour, lugubrious songwriting. So when fellow Mancs Doves returned in 2009 with their fourth album, Kingdom of Rust, there was much interest in whether they could "do an Elbow" – whatever that really meant.
Comparative veterans themselves, Doves had at one time worked as a backing band for another Mercury winner, Badly Drawn Boy, but had since comfortably outcharted Elbow with two number one albums. I Am Kloot, though, have long remained the bridesmaid of this particular grouping. The trio first emerged in 2001 with debut album Natural History, on an offshoot of dance label Wall of Sound, then joined Echo for two albums and an increasingly fractious relationship.
Their last album, I Am Kloot Play Moolah Rouge, came out on Skinny Dog, a label co-founded by Garvey; and for its follow up the band have come full circle: Garvey produced their first album and has returned to the mixing desk with Elbow keyboardist Craig Potter. The result is a delightful balance of frontman John Bramwell's dry delivery and rich, subtly used orchestration, and Kloot's strongest work in almost a decade. This time they really may "do an Elbow". All power to them.
'Sky At Night' is out on 5 July on Skinny Dog Records