Album: Elbow <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Leaders of the Free World, V2
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The Independent Culture

While Elbow could superficially be lumped in along with Athlete, Keane and all the other Coldplay wannabes - particularly on a moody collusion of piano and guitar arpeggios like "The Everthere" - their singer Guy Garvey has a useful knack for slipping in the kind of spiky, discomfiting lines which make you sit up and pay attention - lines like "I'm just ticking off the days until I die", "You little sod, I love your eyes" and "These feelings belong in a zoo". Then there's the more contemplative cast of observations like "Coming home I feel like I designed the buildings I walk by" and "I will miss you the way you miss the sea", which mark Garvey out as one of the more interesting pop lyricists of recent years. Musically, Elbow sometimes make too great a virtue of subtlety, their arrangements understated to the point of diffidence - just a gentle strum or stealthy chord sequence, with the merest hint of percussion. But their restraint pays dividends on tracks like the single "Forget Myself", which recalls Robert Plant's recent work in the way it rolls over and over appealingly, and "A Mexican Standoff", with its double-time clapping and waspish guitar break. Best of all is the title track, which chugs along implacably, while Garvey castigates the morality of contemporary politicians: "I think we dropped the baton/ Like the Sixties didn't happen".