Elbow are a rare critical gem. A paragon of pop music’s validity, this subtle outfit puts forth another solid album with the title of Build a Rocket Boys! – aptly distilling the album’s sentiments by hailing the hope of youth yet forcing the listener to recognize the heartache of hindsight.

The album takes an awkward first step, but by the time “The Birds” plateaus Build a Rocket Boys! is right on track. “Lippy Kids” is a true force and the harrowing chorus contains the album’s title and positions the second track as an early epicentre of the record. Tracks three to five are brilliantly executed – “With Love” sounds like an updated counterpart to Madness’ famous “Wings of a Dove” – and although the third quarter of the album begins to lose its energy, the final and antepenultimate tracks are a purposeful finish.

“Open Arms” has arguably the album’s fiercest moments as its snarling bass stands out amongst the absence of rhythm on the rest of the album. And while the reprised song tarnishes what would otherwise be a perfect finish, “Dear Friends” closes with a flourish and possibly stands as the album’s paramount track.

Build a Rocket Boys! suffers at times from its smothering emotional indulgences, and it definitely has less dynamic than its catchier predecessors, but it sticks to a mood and in the end its moments of perfection outweigh its moments of flaccidity. Skip tracks six, eight and ten, and you have a glorious album. All-inclusive it’s still a touching commentary on youth, memory and loss. Elbow treat these issues expertly and compassionately, creating an album which, more than anything, is emphatically sincere.

Track Listing:

01. The Birds
02. Lippy Kids
03. With Love
04. Neat Little Rows
05. Jesus Is a Rochdale Girl
06. The Night Will Always Win
07. High Ideals
08. The River
09. Open Arms
10. The Birds (Reprise)
11. Dear Friends

Run Time: 51:42
Release Date: 03.07.2011

Check out the song: “Neat Little Rows”