Elbow – “Empires”

At the beginning of the month, Elbow returned with a new song called “Dexter & Sinister.” Soon after, they announced the full details of Giants Of All Sizes, a new album due in October. That’s a pretty quick turnaround by their standards, with Little Fictions having just come out in 2017. Perhaps they were feeling galvanized — whether Brexit in their home country, Trump in the US, or any other array of signals that society is falling apart, the band had plenty of material to draw on for a collection they consider a reckoning with “injustice and division” across the world.

Elbow’s accordingly described a recording process that was a bit more raw, with the band opting to play live in the room together to get at something looser and scragglier than in recent years. Today, they’re back with the official lead single from Giants Of All Sizes. Titled “Empire,” you can certainly hear their approach here. The whole thing drifts above distantly clanging percussion and a seasick organ, scruffy and mournful. “Baby, empires fall all of the time,” Guy Garvey intones, offering up another one of those quintessential Elbow lines that manages to sound like some bit of poetry Garvey’s uttering over a glass of whiskey, late at night. Actually, considering “Empires” is about the “banality of death,” there’s a couple lyrics in that vein here, like “How can a bland, unremarkable, typical Tuesday be Day Of The Dead?”

“Empires” was one of the first songs the band recorded for Giants Of All Sizes, when they had initially decamped to Hamburg. Here’s what keyboardist (and producer) Craig Potter had to say about the recording process for the song and album in general:

We thought the studio would give us inner city vibes but we were on the edge of Hamburg which meant we spent more time in Clouds Hill rather than exploring. With time to spare, we sat around and played together in a way we haven’t for a long time and experimented and improvised with the music which led to the looser feel you hear on “Empires.”

Check it out below.


01 “Dexter & Sinister”
02 “Seven Veils”
03 “Empires”
04 “The Delayed 3:15″
05 “White Noise White Heat”
06 “Doldrums”
07 “My Trouble”
08 “On Deronda Road”
09 “Weightless”

Giants Of All Sizes is out 10/11 via Polydor/Verve Label Group. Pre-order it here.

Tags: Elbow