The second string to the Elbow came in 2003. Two years on from that second first album and with more than a few people looking in their direction to see what was going to come next from this band; Elbow seem to deliver contrasts. They create a universal intimacy which is evident in spades on Cast of Thousands along with a feeling that now they are reaching an audience and they know it (quite literally when you remember that the crowd at their Glastonbury performance sings on Grace Under Pressure).
Ribcage opens the album and seems like Any Day Now, Chapter 2. The band have got out of town, on the road to where they want to be going and there is a great contrast that they “blew the doors, didn’t we? Pissed in their champagne…gave ourselves a name”. You can’t blame Mr. Garvey and the other ‘elboys’ for showing some elation following some time wondering if their time in the spotlight was going to happen. “I wanted to explode, to pull my ribs apart and let the sun inside!”
They do that and then some. This track takes off with an almost hypnotic drumbeat, mantra-like repetition and a Gospel choir for good measure. The boys are nothing if not ballsy in working out what else they can add to a recording to give it the right feel. Gospel choir? Why not! Sing through a tambourine? Give it a go! But at the point where it is all getting big, we’re again pulled down to earth by the boys because while they “blew the doors”, they are still rooted in the everyday; Universal intimacy.
“We call that love, All you have is kisses and all I need is you.”
Fallen Angel is a stomp with interesting lyrics warning about things that are waiting to “bear their teeth for you” and a good guitar part. To me the song is about or to someone who is down on their luck and who is not quite seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Fear not though, reader and listener, for a ‘gee up’ comes in the form of song…
Drag your feathers ‘cross the dancefloor, throw your shapes electric blue. Don’t fall to pieces on me.
We’ve all had those moments where we’re told to keep our head up, best foot forward n’all that, “choose your favourite shoes and keep your blues on cruise control”, tomorrow is another day. Paul McCartney said that when he found himself in times of trouble, Mother Mary came to him… this perhaps hits on the same vein but more to the point.
“…count back the weeks on worried fingers, virgin mother whats’erface”