Their music is certainly bold, bolder than I remember. I feel like there are thousands of people around the world that would love the chance to chat with this guy about music and this is an opportunity that’s entirely wasted on me. Perhaps I’m not about to ask the right questions and Craig is going to pick me for the fraud that I am. I’m used to moving in different circles and truthfully I’m not sure how to approach a conversation of this nature, with a member of a band like Elbow.
When the phone finally does ring he tells me that I’ve caught him right after doing the dishes or packing the children’s lunches or some other similarly mundane domestic duty. I feel a little more comfortable talking to someone else who doesn’t know how to properly tie a bin bag than an icon of British music, but Craig Potter seems like he ticks both boxes.
The Take Off And Landing Of Everything is Elbow’s sixth studio release in the band’s 20-year career and also marks a shift in the band’s approach to songwriting. “We have tried to split the group dynamic up a little bit, we had one member take a day off on a different day each week, which meant that different groups work together that may not have done so. We specifically wanted to mix it up in that way,” Potter tells me from his home in North Manchester. “We’ve also been working a lot more from home, there’s a song on the album that I wrote almost all of the music to and the same goes for Pete on another song and Mark on another song which is something we wouldn’t ordinarily do.”
To me, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything seems to be such an appropriate album for Elbow to release at this point in time, not because of the nature of the contemporary musical landscape, but for them, as a band and as people. It’s rather sparse and mature in it’s sound. Potter explains that it’s at least in part to do with growing older.
“It definitely changes the older you get with respect to lyrical content and subject matter. A lot of it’s linked to approaching 40. This age is sort of about looking forward and looking back at the same time”.
Though as they age and consequently the subject matter of their music changes, Potter says that Elbow aren’t concerned with making and changes to try and appeal to a new contemporary by adopting fashionable sounds or styles.
“I think if you worry too much about being relevant then you tend to go down some wrong roads. It’s got to be sincere and it’s got to be all about the sound. We don’t think that if we’re hearing a lot of a particular sound then we should go for that. I think it’s a risky way to work”.
The Take Off And Landing Of Everything is unmistakably Elbow. It’s epic at points but at others quite hollow and loose. The arrangement of sound is almost orchestral in certain instances on the record and it’s all fronted by lyrics full of substance and full of worry, as you’d come to expect from Elbow. I wouldn’t describe this record as sounding overly down or depressing, but it’s so close that you feel it could turn that way at any moment, few bands can mimic real life so well sonically.
BY KEATS MULLIGAN