Single Review – Elbow – What Time Do You Call This?

The latest single from festival song-along favourites Elbow was penned exclusively for new British rom-com Man Up. It’s a trademark Elbow track, with frontman Guy Garvey’s comforting Northern vocals taking centre stage surrounded by gentle drumbeats, soaring strings, twinkling piano and a backing chorus of “What time do you call this?” that will no doubt be chanted from the crowd at the band’s next festival appearance. All in all it’s a solid track, but something is missing; passion.

Elbow have a knack for putting untold emotion into their music. They know how to slowly build a track, adding layer upon layer of vocals and strings until it comes to a dramatic climax; that’s the part where the crowd start singing along, swept up in emotion. Garvey’s voice can be soulful and powerful; he can whisper lyrics and hold you on the edge of your seat, or belt out notes with all the breath in his lungs to make the hairs on your arm stand on end. What Time Do You Call This? lacks all of these elements. Despite the layers of melodies and rhythms, the track is flat and the crescendo isn’t dramatic enough to move the listener. Garvey’s vocals seem dull and unmoved, as though he’s not invested in the emotions of the song and doesn’t even believe in his own lyrics; no wonder when he’s telling someone else’s story rather than his own.

What Time Do You Call This? isn’t a bad track; it’s just a slightly disappointing release from a band that have so much more to offer us. It’s a pleasant soundtrack song, but a good single in its own right? Sadly, it falls short.

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott

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