On their third LP, Leaders of the Free World, the brooding boys of Elbow remind us that it’s okay to be sad for eleven songs straight.
It may be a bit too reductive to describe this music as “sad” — the emotion conveyed on Leaders of the Free World is deeper, fuller and much richer than any monosyllabic word — but on this front-heavy album, even these guys seem to run out of ways to tell us they’re bummed out. Building from the simple, quiet beauty of “Station Approach,” the album goes through several strong, moving compositions and climaxes at slot number five with the album’s spanking title track, a protest song that would have any fancy-pants politician doing some soul searching.
After that, the album drops off the charts with six unremarkable cuts of slow melancholy. Still, presenting four or five great songs on any fifty-minute album is a rare gift, and on Leaders of the Free World, these bittersweet Brits prove to be worthy rainy-day companions.