Label: Polydor Records
For 25 years, Elbow has managed to make beautifully layered high-minded albums like the sort The Moody Blues used to craft in their middle period and Radiohead did in their early days. Grandiose and epic, from the beginning these five friends from Bury, England, outside of Manchester, weren’t just creating finely wrought anthemic music, they were searching for meaning; merging the macro and the micro, the personal and the political, showing that both were exactly the same thing. On their seventh album, Little Fictions, they are still continuing on that thorny path toward love and enlightenment albeit without their drummer Richard Jupp with whom they amicably parted ways with last year. But it is his absence that seems to have freed Elbow to explore different tempos, expressions and thought processes from the sparse and unadorned “Gentle Storm,” a love ballad with minimal percussion and spare keyboard chords and the Stone Rose-ian dance rhythms of “It’s All Disco,” inspired a chat singer Guy Garvey had with Pixies frontman Frances Black, to the arrhythmic heart stopping stutter of “K2” about Brexit, and the tour de force title track, “Little Fictions.” Make no mistake; this is anxious music for anxious times, but not music without hope and promise for the future.