Elbow – Giants of All Sizes: I’ve the heaviest heart jackhammering in me.

Artist: Elbow
Album: Giants of All Sizes
Year: 2019
Grade: B-

In Brief: After the relative lightness of Little Fictions, it made sense for Elbow to go in a darker, more brooding direction, especially considering the personal losses the band has endured over the past few years. Only problem is, it feels like there isn’t a whole lot of meat to this album since it only has nine songs, and barely half of them are striking me as memorable.

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Coldplay – Kaleidoscope: I want something just like about 40% of this.

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Artist: Coldplay
Album: Kaleidoscope EP
Year: 2017
Grade: B

In Brief: While I feel like this EP’s release was a bit overhyped, and I’m not inclined to trust rumors of the band having recorded their final album, there are some genuinely exciting new directions taken here that I’d love to see the band explore a little further… and also some embarrassing attempts at pop culture relevance that I wish they’d bury once and for all.

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Elbow – Little Fictions: I prefer to think of them as “Fun Size Alternative Facts”.

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Artist: Elbow
Album: Little Fictions
Year: 2017
Grade: B+

In Brief: This album goes down smoother than The Take Off and Landing of Everything, though it may not have as much dynamic range, or as many climactic or startling moments. Some recent personal and professional changes in the band lineup lead to a sunnier and surprisingly more groove-based Elbow record, which I’d say is more accessible than their last few without radically altering their sound.

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Guy Garvey – Courting the Squall: Harder (and Softer) Edges

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Artist: Guy Garvey
Album: Courting the Squall
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: At times it may as well just be a new Elbow record, but since Elbow paints a little bit outside of their previously established lines with every album, I don’t consider it to be a bad thing for their lead singer to do some more of that on his own. The combination of loud, brash, up-tempo numbers and velvety ballads makes the flow a bit choppier than it would be on an Elbow record, but there’s a lot of strength in the diversity as well.

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Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams: Quit while you’re a head.

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Artist: Coldplay
Album: A Head Full of Dreams
Year: 2015
Grade: B-

In Brief: An enjoyably upbeat, albeit overly mushy and commercialized, record that I’d be willing to accept as a decent swansong if Coldplay actually followed through on their threat to call it quits after seven albums.

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Coldplay – Ghost Stories: An Unconscious Uncoupling

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Artist: Coldplay
Album: Ghost Stories
Year: 2014
Grade: B-

In Brief: Modern day electronica-leaning Coldplay meets the “too meek and mellow to be bothered with a full-length album” Coldplay of olden times. I like the more ambient take on a stripped-down sound, but this album could use a little more meat on its bones.

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Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything: What a Perfect Waste of Time.

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Artist: Elbow
Album: The Take Off and Landing of Everything
Year: 2014
Grade: B-

In Brief: First impression: Slooooooooow and really difficult to get into. After further listening: A bit more languid than Elbow’s usual, but not without its grand, anthemic moments, and its subtler bits that soothe the savage beast once they manage to get their hooks into you. Probably not a great place to start for new listeners, but a worthy addition to Elbow’s discography nonetheless.

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Elbow – Leaders of the Free World: You’ve gone and made a beautiful hole in my heart.

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Artist: Elbow
Album: Leaders of the Free World
Year: 2005
Grade: B+

In Brief: One of three Elbow albums that just narrowly missed out on a five-star rating. Still, there’s enough evidence here to help secure Elbow a spot on my “favorite bands” list.

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All Star United: Ain’t it grand when you’re livin’ in La La Land?

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Artist: All Star United
Album: All Star United
Year: 1997
Grade: A

In Brief: A classic power pop album from my college days. Really, you can’t go wrong here, unless you just hate happy music (and even then, you gotta love the sarcastic songs).

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