steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
info opinion


"The Seldom Seen Kid" CD

Fiction Records / Geffen

Genre: pop, rock

June 23 2008

There is something about crisp, elegant pop music that always seems to falter. I can't put my finger on it, but after listening to thousands of review CDs, I've begun to notice that the more polished and mature a pop album sounds, the less I end up liking it. And although I'm sure you're willing to chalk that up to me being a huge indie rock bigot who can't handle melodies unless they're drenched in feedback, I assure you that I am making a valid argument here. Once an album gets too slick and mature, it winds up falling into the boring adult alternative crowd and being relegated to soft rock radio and department store programming.

Well, thank you Elbow for proving that "adult" pop music can transcend the soccer mom minivan crowd. The Seldom Seen Kid is a thoroughly satisfying album that serves up melodic bliss with an indisputable elegance. And due to cleverly original and variable song architecture, this record remains interesting over its nearly-an-hour duration.

The Seldom Seen Kid begins with a duo of airy, lifting pop songs before dipping into two of its best tracks, "Mirrorball" and "Grounds for Divorce." The former is a shimmering wonder of a track that bleeds mainstream appeal yet doesn't sacrifice song quality. Pretty guitars seem to shake off glitter with every strum, reminding the listener of a sticky but romantic summer night; and when the strings kick in, you can practically feel yourself being lifted off the ground. "Grounds for the Divorce," on the other hand, is powered by a sweaty blues groove, with Guy Garvey's sensitive but powerful vocals recanting a tale of domestic discontent. Epic "The Loneliness of a Crane" is another highlight, with its dragging drums, pulsing guitars, and desperate vocals combining to create the darkest track on this album; indeed, the entire song sounds as if it is being blared into an infinite void.

While every moment on this disc isn't as outstanding as its more spectacular singles, potential Elbow customers can rest assured that this record maintains a level of quality that will support many full listens. By the time the hushed cymbals and winding guitars of album closer "Friend of Ours" draw The Seldom Seen Kid to a close, only the most ardent indie rock purists will still be scowling with their arms crossed.

elbow's myspace


youuuuuuuutube!: grounds for divorce, one day like this

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2008]