V2 - 2005 - 49 minutes

Music trends come and music trends go, but stay defiantly unfashionable and listeners stick with you for the long run. Elbow - a band who have meant a lot to people but not to a lot of people - have in the last few years seen Coldplay and Keane get huge and witnessed the 1980s repackaged into a 'new' genre but have gone about their business in a refreshingly hype-free way. Whether 'Leaders of the Free World' is the record to break them to the masses is a big ask, but it's an excellent album, filled with poignancy, bite and some of this year's most memorable songs.

With tracks like 'Any Day Now' and 'Grace Under Pressure', Elbow always had their share of standouts, but they've now created a collection of them. The invective of the stomping title track is something you'll find yourself humming along to while 'My Very Best' trounces the combined recent offerings of all the UK's 'anthem merchants' in five-and-a-half minutes. And it's the mellow approach of the latter which yields 'Leaders of the Free World's finest moments: 'An Imagined Affair', 'The Everthere' and in particular 'Great Expectations' would close any set to the sound of dropping jaws and upstage whatever band was due on next.

"You patched me up and sent me on my way," sings Guy Garvey as the album closes. The songs he and his bandmates have here will do exactly the same thing for you.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Station Approach - Picky Bugger - Forget Myself - The Stops - Leaders of the Free World - An Imagined Affair - Mexican Standoff - The Everthere - My Very Best - Great Expectations - Puncture Repair