February 7, 2002

Test Spin – Elbow

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Lately, there has been a flurry of complaints about Britpop ranging from bands being derivatives of Radiohead to the genre’s obsession with love songs. Frankly, Radiohead are in their own league and songs about love are usually inherently sincere, not to mention emotionally cathartic for the songwriter.

Elbow’s debut plays into the fray. They aren’t as basic as Coldplay, but rather a pleasant mix of The Doves’ melodies and The Beta Band’s drum loops. Asleep in the Back may mellow you out like Prozac, but the journey will be much more comfortable.

The album starts off with the measured drums and choral chants of the eerily familiar “Any Day Now.” The pace rises with the guitar distortion of “Bitten by the Tailfly,” but only to a slow jog. Then there’s the crawl surrounding the album’s opus “Newborn,” featuring singer Guy Garvey’s impression of Peter Gabriel. I don’t suggest Elbow for running or long drives, but for wasting a night at Uris Library, it will do.

Archived article by Nikhil Swaminathan