Elbow – Leaders of the Free World (2005)

Hangover music.  What makes good hangover music?

Elbow’s Leaders of the Free World might be good hangover music.  Well, it filled that spot nicely for me on Sunday, as I recovered from the extreme and delicious day before at Hashigo Zake’s X-Ale festival.[1]

I first heard Elbow when a friend recommended 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid to me, seemingly just days before the album was nominated for a Mercury Prize[2] and, suddenly, it seemed everyone down here in New Zealand had heard about them.

And that was cool. But The Seldom Seen Kid didn’t quite click for me.  But it was interesting enough to send me looking for earlier albums by the band.  Because with music, as with beer, I tend not to give up on things without giving them a few attempts to reveal their depth.[3]

And that’s what Leaders of the Free World, Elbow’s 2006 album has in spades.  Depth.  Not depth as in deep (but there are moments that are beautiful and profound), but depths as in conveying layer upon layer of sounds and styles within the album’s very mature, very polished sound.

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