Arriving three years after 2014's The Take Off and Landing of Everything -- a span of time that also saw leader Guy Garvey taking a busman's holiday in 2015 with Courting the Squall -- Little Fictions showcases a different but eminently recognizable Elbow. Seven albums into their career, the band remains a deliberate, contemplative group -- such somberness is a part of their DNA -- but Little Fictions feels optimistic, particularly when it's compared to the elegiac The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Where that album dwelled on the idea of loss, Little Fictions is its counterbalance, a record about new beginnings. This change is evident within Garvey's lyrics, which are filled with romantic images and hope, but the impressive thing about Little Fictions is how there is a shift within the group's music. That music is evident from the very sound of the record: it's lighter on the surface yet complex at its foundation, giving the illusion of a constantly moving, silvery shimmer. Elbow emphasize electronic rhythms, sometimes even conjuring a semblance of a groove, yet they still find space for chiming guitars, such as in "All Disco," which sounds like R.E.M. doing their best Velvet Underground impression. Such ringing six-strings provide a connection to Elbow's indie beginnings, but the added electronic flair and percolating rhythms are an enhancement to the band's essential character, not a departure. By moving forward steadily, encompassing a changing present -- both in musical and personal terms -- Elbow wind up with a mature, resonant record. Little Fictions feels quietly hopeful, making it a tonic for troubled times.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine