Album reviews: Elbow, Mø, Dan Croll, Ann Peebles, Arve Henriksen

 

Elbow The Take Off And Landing Of Everything (Fiction)

If this album title suggests an urge to face the future after 2011’s nostalgic Build a Rocket Boys!, Bury’s finest are up to the job. This, their sixth album, didn’t come without testing times. Guy Garvey split from his partner, then decamped to New York to recover. Band members wrote songs disparately, too, but the results suggest that Elbow’s robust core values would see them right even if they moved to different planets.

Characteristic notes of empathy and emotional acuity guide these meditations on ageing, destabilisation and sustaining friendship; universal subjects couched, as is Elbow’s wont, in humble specifics. “This Blue World” handles grandiose images (“Was the universe in rehearsal for us?”) with loving restraint, the obvious, more grand-standing approach avoided. When Garvey writes about love, he dodges platitudes and targets minute details, as in “Fly Boy Blue/Lunette”: “Where are the words for the leap in my chest/ When mischief appears either side of the scar on your nose/ Made by a rose thorn...”. When tipsy male bonds are toasted in “My Sad Captains”, striking images (“The BMX apothecary”) and noble, brassy flourishes elevate it above hug-a-mate anthemic cliché.

Elsewhere, big themes take anchor in fine-tuned character studies. “Charge” doubles as a drunken old rocker’s complaint and a study in mid-life loneliness, “The Blanket of Night” as the tender tale of two ocean-tossed asylum seekers and a hymn to romantic constancy.

Between the pub and the high seas, Elbow reset their mission statement here: to navigate the heart’s tides with their art intact.

****

Kevin Harley

No Mythologies To Follow (RCA Victor)

Joining the musical dots between fellow Scandi electro-popstrels Lykke Li and Robyn comes the Danish artist Mø, aka Karen Marie Ørsted.

Her debut is an accomplished, glossily shimmering thing. There are chart-friendly melodies and retro-synths (“Red in the Grey” opens like it’s “Take On Me”) and vocals evoking bankable acts from Lana Del Ray to Shakira. But there’s also surging bass and dancefloor-shaking stomp (see the Diplo-featuring “XXX 88”), laptop-bothering skittish beats, blasts of brass and even unexpected peals of almost West African-style guitars.

Enough wonk and weird, then, to distinguish Mø from other predictable dance-pop puppets. There must be something in those fjords…

****

Holly Williams

Dan Croll Sweet Disarray (Deram)

While listening to this inoffensive folkie electro-pop you can’t help feel like you’re in an advert, one where smiley hipsters are on a road trip and everyone’s bopping along to the nice plinky, synthy sounds.

So, it’s not surprising that Toshiba recently used the catchy “From Nowhere” to try to flog us all tablets. There’s a distinctly East Coast, MGMT-meets-Vampire-Weekend vibe to Croll’s sound, which gets a bit grating considering he’s actually from Staffordshire. But expect to hear Sweet Disarray Spotify-ed at every bland dinner party from now until Christmas or soundtracking your next trip to that clothes store that thinks it’s a bit cool. It won’t frighten the horses, but it might encourage you to buy an overpriced T-shirt. Job’s a good ’un.

***

Kate Wills

Ann Peebles I Can’t Stand The Rain (Hi/Fat Possum)

Only Peebles’s 1970s output for Willie Mitchell’s Hi label rivalled Al Green’s as the apotheosis of a certain kind of slinky, skinned-back Memphis soul. And what a sound it was: penumbral rhythms cooking on low, the pocket deep, tight and minimalistic – resulting in maximal drama.

The title track of this 1974 album was the minor UK hit – a scouring, burnt-out love lamentation on a parched groove – but the rest of the album continues the tone: the agonies of love expressed caustically and without ideological back-up.

Sadly, Fat Possum isn’t re-releasing Straight From the Heart, but the other five albums in the canon are all present and soberly correct. Soul scaled to the true compass of the broken heart: not a big thing but a real thing.

****

Nick Coleman

Arve Henriksen Chron + Cosmic Creation Rune (Grammofon)

Norwegian trumpeter/soundscaper Henriksen’s last album, the critically lauded Places of Worship, proved so listenable that it almost risked popularity. This is his experimental revenge.

Chron, which appeared in vinyl form as part of the seven-LP box-set Solidification, is a kind of electronica audio-diary recorded at home and in transit (hotels, airports, backstage). More sound than music, it’s sort-of-interesting but hardly essential and unlikely to be played very often.

In contrast, Cosmic Creation is the real Henriksen deal, with each of the eight numbered parts repaying close attention as the instrumental textures gradually take shape and then build into long-form coherence. It’s wispy ambient music with a thrilling sense of danger.

****

Phil Johnson

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game