Much has changed in the three years since Elbow’s last album. An extended hiatus, most notably, saw singer and lyricist Guy Garvey release an acclaimed solo record and get married, as well as the departure of founding member and drummer Richard Jupp. These events have caused a noticeable deviation in the sound of the band we’ve come to know over the course of six albums.
The songs on Elbow’s seventh effort are more groove based than before due to the absence of a drummer in the writing process. Little Fictions is also notably a lower key album for the usually exuberant band. The orchestrations are rarer and, when present, more subtle. The exception to this being one of the album’s standout tracks ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ which captures a joy not seen in the band’s catalogue since 2009’s ‘One Day Like This’.
Guy Garvey has also swapped the heavy melancholy of earlier melodies with a brighter, more optimistic tone. A result of his current relationship status maybe? His lyrics remain wonderfully over the top if not a little mundane.
Unfortunately the mundane is also a feature of the music in parts of the album. The more effective moments tend to be the quieter ones with track Head For Supplies showing the band at their vulnerable best.
Overall, ‘Little Fictions’ while consistently pleasant proves to be an underwhelming regression from the incredibly strong run the band have enjoyed. However, the music of Elbow is rarely immediately gratifying. Repeat listening’s and further meditation must follow.
In A Nutshell: Newcomers to Elbow might find better starting points elsewhere.