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Elbow – Leaders of the Free World

How appropriate that, coinciding with my listening to Elbow’s Leaders of the Free World, I was reading Vonnegut’s Euphio Question. See, the story, in basics, chronicles three men who harness and transmit radio waves from the stars that, when magnified, create a buzz that makes the listener euphoric. I think you can see where I’m going, and yes, Elbow’s CD is one of those CDs, without the repercussions of the Vonnegut tale.


Not only beautiful, but wry and clever… the title track likens our “feckless son” to a spoiled child, making his power all the more frightening. How would you like the little boy frying ants with a magnifying glass running your country?

Despite the title, it’s not a political CD, but more focused on missing the comforts of family, home, and accustomed surroundings. It laments the lack of ideal love from a barstool in “An Imagined Affair” and floundering love in several other tracks. It’s quite unlike “Any Day Now” from their debut, where Guy Garvey sang of moving on, of frustrations from familiarity. Leaders of the Free World longs for a return to “the town/where they know what I’m like and don’t mind.”

The delicate strength of this CD can place its privileged audience in a happy trance. It’s one of those desert island choices. For the coming months, a preoccupation of mine will be ensuring I see it performed live.


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