This morning I listened to Elbow’s Mercury prize-winning album, The Seldom Seen Kid. It was easily one of the most sustainedly moving listening experiences I’ve had in a long time. About halfway through I was so excited about writing this post that I had to make a conscious effort to keep listening and not start writing. Isn’t that quite typical of our times? Karl Spain jokes about it in relation to our digital photo habits:
CLICK. “Here, give us a look!” Sigh. “Ah, we were happy then…”
One of the thing’s mentioned on Elbow’s rather beautifully designed website about The Seldom Seen Kid is that the album was conceived very much as a whole and not as a collection of tracks. (The shift, much lamented in some circles, towards consuming music in track-sized pieces is not good or bad but it does allow outstanding examples of the album format to shine, as in this case.) This is also evident in the way the album artwork is designed. It takes the form of an illustrated book, the lyrics presented in a string rather than in the more customary line-by-line way.
The experience of clicking through the digital booklet that comes with the (€6.99!) download of the album from iTunes was very pleasurable, the full-screen PDF format rendering the images at glorious LP size and the text at a readable point size. Why, oh why can’t all albums sold on iTunes come with something like this?
Singer Guy Garvey writes all the lyrics and some of his turns of phrase are just gorgeous, like this one from Weather to fly :
So in looking to stray from the line we decided instead we should pull at the thread that was stitching us into this tapestry vile and why wouldn’t you try?
His unaffected voice, which he sends soaring every once in a perfectly judged while, is one of the most emotive in music. The band’s playing on this recording is exquisite and, following the principles of the ‘Turn Me Up!’ movement, is recorded at a lower level to allow a wider dynamic range.
Having sold out their first Dublin date, in the Ambassador on the 27th October, another has been announced for the following night. I saw their very impressive set at Electric Picnic and will certainly be going along to hear this beautiful, deservedly accoladed album played live.