The debut album from Mancunian prog-rock group Elbow.

Asleep in the Back Special Edition (2002, V2 Music)

  1. Any Day Now
  2. Red
  3. Little Beast
  4. Powder Blue
  5. Bitten by the Tailfly
  6. Asleep in the Back *
  7. Newborn
  8. Don't Mix Your Drinks
  9. Presuming Ed (Rest Easy)
  10. Coming Second
  11. Can't Stop
  12. Scattered Black and Whites

* bonus track

All songs written by Guy Garvey.

Asleep in the Back is a powerful album, full of love and loss, hope and desperation. Singer-songwriter Guy Garvey effortlessly moves between a sneering growl on riff-laden noisefest Bitten by the Tailfly and haunting, soaring lyrics on the utterly anthemic and beautiful Newborn. Seven minutes of the most sublime melodies and unashamedly irony-free emotion result in what is probably the best single since Paranoid Android. For this song along, Asleep in the Back is worth the asking price.

But wait, there's more! None of the songs on this album are weak, but there are a few that stand out. Any Day Now, a desperate plea for escape from the doldrums (for Elbow the northern town of Bury where they grew up1) is bewitching, and sounds to me a little like Mogwai. Red is a song of desperate worry (You're a tragedy starting to happen, Garvey sings), and Powder Blue is as touching a ballad as you will find anywhere. The closing track Scattered Black and Whites is a gorgeous patchwork of memories, simple in construction but no less touching for it. Finally, the title track sums up the album so softly it will make you want to weep.

Elbow could draw comparisons to Coldplay, but this album has the complexity and haunting atmospherics of Radiohead's best work. Guy Garvey's lyrics are not always the stuff of sonnetry; I'll be the corpse in your bathtub he sings at the start of Newborn. But the songs, some aching with depression, some floating with unbridled optimism, are so heartbreakingly innocent that they lull you into a state of complete and utter serenity. Listen to this album and you'll understand why the title makes so much sense.

1 This from an NME interview, unfortunately I can't find the issue anywhere...


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