"I'm asking you to back a horse that's good for glue," sings Guy Garvey on "Starlings", the opening track of Elbow's fourth album – though on the evidence here, this band is far from ready for the knacker's yard.
Admittedly, it's a ponderous opening, with Garvey's intimate vocal punctuated by blasts of blaring synthetic horns; but "The Bones of You" and "Grounds for Divorce" allay fears, the former a lilting indie waltz, the latter resembling a modern chain-gang chant. The diversity expands with the subdued brass-band hook of "Weather To Fly" and the uncategorisable "An Audience with the Pope", with its quixotic jangle of zither or dulcimer.
"The Fix" employs suitably furtive organ while Garvey and Richard Hawley wield racing-fraud imagery ("Too many times we've been posterly pipped/ We've loaded the saddles, the mickeys are slipped"), before "One Day Like This" concludes things with a celebration of life's small mercies: "Throw those curtains wide/ One day like this a year will see me right". An absorbing, life-affirming set.
Download this: 'Grounds for Divorce', 'One Day Like This', 'An Audience with the Pope'