If I had read up on Elbow's new album, The Seldom Seen Kid, before listening to it, I probably wouldn't have been surprised to hear the unmistakable velvety croon of Richard Hawley coming out of my speakers. What a treat -- maybe we know too much about everything is this information age.
When we think of duets, it's usually of the girl-guy variety but on "The Fix" we've got singer Hawley trading lines with Elbow's singer Guy Garvey in a tale of two schemers plotting to fix a horse race and retire on the winnings. "We've loaded the saddles, the mickey's are slipped / We're swapping the turf for the sand and the surf and the sin." It's like something out of a Rat Pack movie, which seems to be pretty much how the song was conceived. Garvey told BBC 6 Music (where he's got a Sunday night radio show) that they came up with the idea when they shared a plane ride to America (Tennessee, specifically), adding "He plays the most amazing table top guitar solo at the end. It was so
much fun making it with him. We recorded the vocal facing each other
like Frank and Deano might have, years ago." They better make a video.
MP3: Elbow - The Fix (Pre-order The Seldom Seen Kid)
As for the rest of The Seldom Seen Kid, it's more typical Elbow-ian territory, making epics out of intimate moments like only they can. It shouldn't disappoint anyone who dug the incredible Leader's of the Free World -- my Album of 2005. (They also talked food on these pages too.) If anything, it finds the band taking more musical chances and Guy Garvey's pipes are in fine, world-weary form. There is talk that this may be the album that finally gives them a hit -- the truly gorgeous ballad "Weather to Fly." If Coldplay and Snow Patrol can do it, there is certainly room for Elbow.
The band have launched a hi-tech website for The Seldom Seen Kid, with a sort of Rubik's Cube you manipulate to "reveal instrumental layers of one album track per week." This is during the week -- Saturdays and Sundays it just seems to play the song in toto. With the dissolution of their former label, V2, Elbow are now signed to Fiction, which for years only seemed to exist to release Cure albumsr, which is now home to Kate Nash, Ian Brown and Delays. No word on U.S. distribution but as Fiction is owned by Universal, it seems likely to get a Stateside release.