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84. Elbow – Grounds for Divorce



When Elbow won the 2008 Mercury Music Prize at the fourth attempt, there was a sense that the award was given more to recognise the band’s longevity than to hail their latest LP. Regardless of the intention though, that sentiment slightly misses the fact that The Seldom Seen Kid was Elbow’s finest record to date, the best album on that year’s shortlist, and contained one of the most propulsive rock songs of the decade in Grounds for Divorce. And it’s not just the huge hook that makes Divorce so gutsy – it also stomps from top to toe like some Deep South 1930s chain gang, its sullen, unpredictable mood lifting it comfortably above accusations of one-riff pony. Guy Garvey’s delivery, too, of how to hit self-destruct on a relationship, swaggers around like a nihilistic drunk at closing time, and further marks should be awarded for one of the decade’s most glorious references to masturbation in “polishing a compass that I hold in my sleep”. Never mind the nearly-greatness that Elbow had winked at over the previous ten years, this is the real deal, a monster of a tune.

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