Thursday Thive: The Seldom Seen Kid

Posted on January 23, 2014


I never paid much attention to Elbow in years gone by. I sort of plonked them in the same boat as Doves, honest but ultimately boring Northern indie band. 2008 saw the release of ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, and for some reason I decided to give them more than 30 seconds of my time. ‘Mirrorball’ was the song I went for, and as you’ll read at some point in this I loved it. At the time, it was my favourite album of the year. Hindsight has changed this, but there is still a lot to love about it. Enough guff, let’s thive it.

5: ‘One Day Like This’
Is this the best known song on the album? Maybe, I’m not sure. It’s certainly a shoe-in when it comes to TV montages. I like the song, but it’s certainly taken on a new level of nostalgic-wonder after the wedding of Victoria and Stuart, otherwise known as the Wedding of the Century. There aren’t many things more joy-inducing than seeing a good friend enthralled, especially one that you have all the respect for in the world. I don’t mean respect in the ‘you earn it on the streets’ type of way, but more in a ‘holy arseballs you are a genuinely fantastic human being who should be the happiest’. Sure, the memory is better than the song might be, but the memory makes the song a bigger deal in my four eyes.

4: ‘The Bones of You’
Oh so moody. After the nothingness of ‘Starlings’ opens the album (I think I like the song and despise it at the same time), ‘The Bones of You’ starts the whole thing proper. Guy Garvey sounds so very smug throughout, but that sort of smug that is wrought with self doubt and resignation. The lyrics may very well be the best thing about this whole album, and ‘straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day’ is right up there with any of them. Okay, the middle eight is lazy, but the chorus makes up for that.

3: ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’
‘Tooweeeeeeeeer Craaaaaaaaane driiiiiiveeeeeeeer’. Lovely. It’s all hazy morning, sun peeking through intense fog. Swathes of confused beauty. The album’s most underrated and understated song.

2: ‘Grounds for Divorce’
There are many words in music that overused. Epic is one of them. Anthemic is another. Still, much like describing any word without using the very same word, it’s difficult to talk about ‘Grounds for Divorce’ without using either of those two words, the latter in particular. There aren’t many better songs written about alcoholism I’d wager. ‘There’s a hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall’ is another cracker from the Garvey pen on the subject. But really, like every great song ever written (fact), this is a song built around a riff. It sounds good on the album, but on the BBC orchestra thing it sounds FUCKING HUGE. Wonderful song. Anthemic, even.

1: ‘Mirrorball’
If this was a list of my favourite songs ever, not just my favourite songs off this album in particular, ‘Mirrorball’ would make it. That smug but miserable feeling mentioned before? This song is positively drowning in it. A lovely drifting piano leads, with those swathes of confused beauty making their first real entry on the album. ‘Mirrorball’ manages to sound like the soundtrack to the most wonderful of lucid dreams, where you wander aimlessly around many different types of beauty. If Kurasawa got the aesthetics down pat in ‘Dreams’, Elbow got the audio spot on here. The middle is punctuated by the most delightful of piano lines, sounding cheeky but assured all at once. ‘We kiss like we invented it’ is flat out the best line on the album too. Beautiful, in the most literal sense of the term.

Posted in: Music, Thursday Thive