elbow released their sixth studio album on March 11th, 2014 in the U.S. The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Fiction/Concord Records) was recorded in Real World Studios and at the band’s facilities at Blueprint Studios in Salford, England. As with previous albums, the million selling The Seldom Seen Kid and platinum follow up build a rocket boys!, it was produced by the band’s keyboardist Craig Potter.
The making of The Take Off and Landing of Everything saw the band take a new approach to writing and recording. Previously songs were mostly developed by the band as a whole, but this new album sees individual members and sub-groups take the lead on several tracks.
“Honey Sun” was written and recorded at home by guitarist Mark Potter, his brother Craig wrote the music for “Real Life (Angel)” and bassist Pete Turner built “Colour Fields” using apps on his iPad. The first track to be heard from the album, “Fly Boy Blue / Lunette” was developed by drummer Richard Jupp alongside Pete and Mark whilst both Guy and Craig were away from the studio.
The album features several guests including the Hallé Orchestra (“Manchester’s oldest band” as Guy affectionately calls them) with Pete McPhail, Tim Barber, Bob Marsh and Kat Curlett adding brass to selected tracks and tour mate and long term friend Jimi Goodwin of Doves adding backing vocals on “New York Morning.”
Despite the changes in approach musically and lyrically The Take Off and Landing of Everything contains many familiar elements for fans of the band. Early taster “Fly Boy Blue / Lunette” harks back to debut single “Newborn” in its step change melody and rhythmic shift mid song whilst “New York Morning,” the first single from the album, carries at its center the type of life affirming refrain that run through elbow songs from “Scattered Black and Whites” from their debut to “Open Arms” from build a rocket boys!.
Sharp-eyed elbow watchers will also note the presence of “Charge,” which was performed live during the band’s last run of UK arena shows during the build a rocket boys! campaign in December 2012. The song demonstrates that elbow retain an ability to deliver the darker side of human nature that echoes the likes of “Little Beast” and “I’ve Got Your Number” from earlier albums.
Familiar themes return, the welcoming of old friends, the mourning of past loves and, as Guy would say “some of the big and little, positive and negative, life experiences that any group of men approaching forty can expect.”
The video for the first single, “New York Morning” features Dennis and Lois, the legendary New Yorkers whose forty-year plus involvement in the music scene of Greenwich Village saw them befriend a host of bands from The Ramones to Blondie, Doves to elbow. The band first met Dennis and Lois on an early US tour whilst supporting fellow Manchester band Doves helping out on their merchandise stand.
Made by elbow’s long term visual collaborators Soup Collective, the video is a touching portrait of a couple immersed in a love of rock ‘n’ roll and each other. Filmed at their house crammed with music memorabilia and signed letters from some of the most famous musicians in the history of rock music, the short is a potted biography of two characters who are now almost as famous as the bands they have watched over the years.
The Take Off and Landing of Everything was released on CD, vinyl and through all digital outlets on March 11th, 2014.