Album Review: Elbow - 'Giants of All Sizes'

Elbow’s eighth album was released on Friday 11th October and with the band having over 20 years of success, Giants of All Sizes was highly anticipated.

Elbow have become known as the group that has a ballad for every occasion – ever optimistic, Guy Garvey and his band have created the songs that Britain laugh to and cry to. It is very rare to see highlights of the year without One Day Like This or Magnificent (She Says) playing in the background; whether you’re 14 or 40, Elbow are still relatable and enjoyable. Having headlined Y Not? Festival this year, the group aim to become relevant with younger people once again.

Unlike previous albums, Giants of All Sizes seems rather dark. Garvey is known and adored for his tackling of personal issues throughout his works, creating the raw emotion that can be heard behind every track. Even though the album is bleaker than previous works, the big band sound against the warm, northern vocals demands to be blasted out at full volume to truly appreciate the work of one of Britain’s most successful and technical bands. The opening track Dexter & Sinister is introduced by a distorted bass riff followed by the band build-up to Garvey discussing his declining beliefs (“I don’t know Jesus anymore”), suggesting that the world in this current state of turmoil has caused individuals to lose faith.

"A truly beautiful song, the vocals are so full of emotion, so raw, and the constant build throughout [My Trouble] is very moving, highlighting why Elbow are a national favourite."

Empires discusses the notion that everyone and everything is crumbling around us, and this makes sense considering the album was written around the time of the death of Garvey’s father. White Noise White Heat is what one my define as your classic Elbow track; discussion of a hard-hitting topic, yet the lyrics are put to an upbeat and optimistic tune. In this case, Garvey is talking about the notion of injustice, and many critics have inferred that the song discusses the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower. “I was born with trust, the white heat of injustice has taken my eyes/I just want to get high” being yet another example of how Garvey seems to have become disillusioned with the real world.

Image courtesy of Paul Husband

The charming love ballad My Trouble has to be my favourite track on the album. Whilst the lyrics are simple along with the melody, the song is extremely well constructed. There is a large range of instruments in the background yet, it sounds so well put-together and effortless. A truly beautiful song, the vocals are so full of emotion, so raw, and the constant build throughout the song is very moving, highlighting why Elbow are a national favourite.

Despite that, as a whole, the album seems darker than some of their previous work, it still maintains that optimistic tone and has songs for all moods. This is a challenge for an album of only nine songs, yet the narrative of the album works well.