Random Access Memories
The prospect of a B-sides album by most bands would rightly fill you with unmitigated horror.
Thankfully, Elbow are not most bands. This collection of songs by Bury’s finest – named, typically self-effacingly, after a joke reference to their Asleep In The Back album by Guy Garvey’s sister – easily eclipses most groups’ main offerings.
Garvey has talked about how the band frequently record some of their best material as B-sides when relaxing in the studio after finishing off albums, and it shows. Elbow’s trademark air of gorgeous melancholy suffuses songs such as Lay Down Your Cross, where Garvey knowingly murmurs: “You don’t see me drinking alone…”
Elbow’s crowning glory remains their ability to craft beautifully intricate understated melodic symphonies over which Garvey tosses away devastatingly self-lacerating one-liners. His words, as ever, cut like a knife: “I’m certainly a better friend that I ever was a lover,” he volunteers on Lucky With Disease. “But that’s not saying much…”
No arena-filling band are more intimate, no sceptical dreamers more candid, confessional and definitively British. It’s yet more casual, profound brilliance from an understated national treasure of a group.