If you've spent time with Elbow in the past - 2001's 'Asleep in the Back', 2003's 'Cast of Thousands', 2005's 'Leaders of the Free World' - the question 'why aren't they bigger?' has probably arisen during or after each listen. Their consistency as a band is an all too rare thing; people's lack of knowledge of their work is all too frequent.
All of the above are in place once again for 'The Seldom Seen Kid', a record which could be Elbow's best - but the chances of massive success are slimmer than those on its gloriously cinematic race rigging story 'The Fix', one of the many standouts here.
As in the past, what 'The Seldom Seen Kid' rewards is patience. The arrangements are predominantly slow; the big noise is seldom but wisely chosen; the singalong singles are somewhere else. But spend enough time with these 12 songs and their magic grows by the hour.
Singer Guy Garvey has evolved into a great chronicler of love and worn-down life and the combination of sweet, sad and scathing here is intoxicating.
There really is something for every mood: the stomping 'Grounds for Divorce' booms with bad attitude and big drums; the Richard Hawley duet on 'The Fix' is wickedly funny; the tenderness of 'Mirrorball' something to shield yourself with and 'Friend of Ours' yet another Elbow reason to stay in, by yourself, with the lights off.
These are just four of the treats that await; the other eight could turn out to be your favourites. If you've found yourself thinking that the equation of music to money well spent is increasingly negative, 'The Seldom Seen Kid' will restore equilibrium.
Garvey has spoken of his happiness at being known as an 'albums band', but just like so many people have sold themselves short when it comes to Elbow so too has he: they're a great albums band. Make sure the 'Kid' isn't seldom heard.