During 'The South Bank Show's excellent 2009 documentary about Elbow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZj3bPPntxo), guitarist Mark Potter said that when the band started in Bury, Greater Manchester singer Guy Garvey was "a 17-year-old stroppy frontman" who "had a problem with everything". In the same programme, the all grown-up and thoroughly charming Garvey rummaged through his old diaries, did not dwell on success and was far more interested in the "Holy Grail of lyric writing", which he described as "convincingly complex emotions put in a really believable way".
On 'build a rocket boys!' the wise man who has that great gift lets the lad with the big ideas but not enough sense bring him back to old Bury haunts, pals and emotions. Should you decide to tag along, do so in the knowledge that a young tour guide who you know everything about will also appear at your side. Garvey treats his with as much tenderness as honesty; perhaps you should do the same.
This is a wonderful, vivid record which combines that celebratory, string-driven rush from Mercury-winning predecessor 'The Seldom Seen Kid' with the intimacy and off-centre allure of key Elbow inspirations Talk Talk. It nails the cockiness and confusion of a certain age and heaps on the joy when you realise that some of the best songs Garvey and company have ever written are here. Throughout there's the feeling of five guys sharing friendship and cheering each other on. While Arcade Fire's similarly-themed 'The Suburbs' is also an excellent album, there's a warmth and earthiness to 'build a rocket boys!' that it lacks.
Just as surprising as Elbow's mainstream adulation and Mercury win is the fact that they've made such an audience and award-deserving a follow-up. Success has done nothing bad to the quintet, only made them more special. Any longing 'build a rocket boys!' provokes in the listener for times past is matched by an optimism about what the future holds for Elbow - and the wish that Garvey would try his hand at another cherished medium with a front and back cover before too long. He didn't waste a minute with those diaries, and neither will you here.
The boys done great.