February 25, 2021


By Kristi Kates | Feb. 18, 2017

Elbow – Little Fictions – Concord
Recorded in Manchester, England, and in Scotland, the latest from Guy Garvey and squad manages to be both quiet and bombastic at the same time, in turns and occasionally within the same track. It’s a b-i-g-sounding album, with effusive, elated melodies in focus from the start of the first single and opener “Magnificent (She Says)” through the album’s closer. In the middle, you’ll find the wonderfully risky audio of “Firebrand and Angel” and the vocal acrobatics of “All Disco.” ***

Ed Sheeran – Divide – Atlantic
After a year out of the spotlight, Sheeran returns to much anticipation with his latest effort, another introspective storytelling set bursting from the edges with detail and characters in every track. Recorded while Sheeran was traveling and including album art by the artist himself, Divide includes singles “Shape of You” and the (much better) “Castle on the Hill,” both crafted through Sheeran’s remarkable loop pedal skills; the album is rounded out by additional standouts like “Hearts Don’t Break around Here,” “Supermarket Flowers” and “What Do I Know?” ***

You Me at Six – Night People – BMG
Lesser known in the U.S. but making a big impression in the UK rock scene is You Me at Six, the Surrey band made up of five musical pals who truly arrived in 2014 when their set Cavalier Youth first drew them deserved attention. On this new collection, as produced by Kings of Leon/James Bay cohort Jacquire King, the band sharpens its instruments and delivers via its first single “Give”; unfortunately, the rest of the album isn’t as focused, with songs like “Swear” and “Brand New” proving a little undercooked. **

Andrew McMahon – Zombies on Broadway – Vanguard
Inspired by the city that hosts the street featured on the album’s title – New York City, of course – this set follows McMahon’s eponymous debut and continues his quirky brand of singer-songwriter pop with manifestations of nostalgia on tracks like “Walking in My Sleep,” with lyrics direct from one of McMahon’s journals, and “Love and Great Buildings,” with its vast imagery. Some of the melodies are a little mindless, veering toward the plastic end of the top 40 charts, but at least a solid half of the album is well worth the listen. ** 1/2


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