Giants of All Sizes by Elbow [7/10]

Elbow songs possess an instantly recognizable signature, the dense instrumentation and Guy Garvey’s expressive poetic voice, but they always startle by varying the emotional palette. “Giants of All Sizes” is, above all, pissed off, and the effect invigorates the band and Garvey’s lyrics. Gone are the more baroque and chunky experiments of recent releases, here we have nine songs that are recognizably brooding pop songs, if dressed in dark colors. The album plays out as a cohesive reflection on the now of Brexit, Grenfell, death, and so one. Opening track “Dexter and Sinister” has a familiar lurching rhythm with keyboard surges, plus piano twinkles, and Garvey is in fine song. “White Noise White Heat” rushes in a fierce outburst of heartfelt rage and sounds like teenagers. “Weightless” is a smooth lament. Elbow hit the heights but not as ascendant as they should have been, but regardless of the past, “Giants of All Sizes” is a splendid creation.

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