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Leaders of the Free World

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iTunes Review

Released in September 2005 in the U.K. and in February 2006 in the U.S., Leaders of the Free World was entirely self-produced at Blueprint Studios in Manchester, England. All the songs were written by Elbow, and lead singer Guy Garvey wrote the lyrics. “Forget Myself” and the title track were released as singles in the U.K., while in the U.S., the band settled for alternative rock status. Reviews were largely ecstatic. Garvey’s lyrical wit—which toys with his cynicism—adds another brilliant dimension to songs that go well beyond their lineup of two guitars and keyboards. While there’s still a gorgeously somber moment in “The Stops” and a laid-back glam to “An Imagined Affair” and “Great Expectations,” the upright confidence behind “Station Approach” and “Forget Myself” and the impatient politics of “Leaders of the Free World” make Elbow one of the best bands of the new century in terms of promise and of delivering on that promise.

Customer Reviews

If you thought they couldn't get better, you were wrong.

I defiinitely am glad i picked this up. It's imaginitve and extremly well planned. Poking at politics, it's got a pretty good view at them, they are a bummer (politics that is). Forget Myself being one of the best tracks from this, and with the enjoyable Leaders of the Free World track, it's humorous and delightful Mexican Standoff, Elbow continues to please with, in my opinion, one of the best albums of 2005.

Under the Radar

There probably is a radar out there, somewhere. And inevitably some things literally do fly under it. This album, and band perhaps, are so far beneath the refracting beams of radar technology, that they are practically invisible, but that's exactly how their music aims to feel. Elbow is an innovative band; they once sang an entire song through the sole of a ballet slipper just..well...because. But with 2005's "Leaders of the Free World," Elbow sought to create something more meaningful than simply obscure; they aimed for a Brit-rock bullseye.
The album presents a politically savvy cover and a title track that openly challenges the Bush/Blaire era, but the depth of the albums' emotional sea arrives in the deeper cuts. Take "An Imagined Affair," for example. Never was a song about those things you could never have more intensely likeable. It's dipped in nostalgia, but covered in a powdery frosting of hope. "Station Approach" is, on the surface, a song about mommy, but really is about a longing for comfort in times when it is so gosh darn hard to find anywhere else. But allow yourself to be swept up in tracks 8, 9, and 10 and you will see that Elbow crawls through your veins deep into the thumper in your chest not just to pitter around a bit, but to make a home and leave your soul reeling with thoughts of switches never flicked.
I know people usually only review albums that they really love, but this is an album to break your heart. Enjoy every second of the sweet sorrow.


Formed: 1997 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Injecting a wider range of emotions into their music than most of their guitar-based British peers, Elbow have been known to refer to their grandiose orchestral sound as "prog without the solos." The members of the band -- vocalist Guy Garvey, drummer Richard Jupp, organist Craig Potter, guitarist Mark Potter, and bassist Pete Turner -- met during the early '90s while attending college in Bury. After moving several miles south to Manchester proper, the band went through a couple of developmental...
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