• Band Name: Elbow
  • Record Label: V2
  • Release Date: Jan 22, 2002

Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. The tempos might not ever exceed mid-level, and half of the songs might exceed five minutes, but the record is anything but a difficult listen or tough to wade through.
  2. Everything feels a slight bit too polished, but that's not a huge fault.
  3. Asleep is just enigmatic enough to avoid plagiarism. [Mar 2002, p.77]
  4. Elbow is a sad lot, likely to lead to a life of Merlot, Silk Cuts, and a straight razor or two if you don't watch out. They're gorgeous just the same.
  5. The band's collective songwriting skills impress frequently.
  6. 80
    One listen to Asleep in the Back's "Newborn" invokes a feeling of unmistakable contemplation and a sense of beauty entirely absent from the repertoires of the Oasis and Verves of Brit rock's last generation.
  7. A dark, moody, hypnotic monumental masterpiece with songs that unfold subtlety from one elaborate texture to the next so that you almost don't notice the marvelous hooks until they have dug their way beneath your skin and buried themselves in your soul.
  8. You'll struggle to find any filler on a record that works magnificently as a whole.
  9. 100
    Their debut drips of melancholy and swims in gorgeous sheets of incidental noise.
  10. A full hour of dense, moody gloss--difficult listening without the tuneful base that keeps Radiohead anchored. [29 Mar 2002, p.72]
  11. Elbow understand how to make an album flow without sacrificing the unexpected turns any good record should have.
  12. Seems that after all the pale imitators, Radiohead finally have a competitor worthy of healthy comparison.
  13. More in the vein of Built To Spill's Perfect From Now On than the latest Doves or Travis albums, Asleep is structured as an epic, almost prog-rock album that, once spun, reveals itself as a comfortable listen, containing a number of classic pop songwriting turns within its vastness.
  14. While the band has a very developed sense of texture and sound, though, they rather desperately need to work on changing things up a bit more with regard to the songs themselves.
  15. Elbow have made the most passionate, beautiful and downright special record you'll hear this year.
  16. This is a complex record, full of bleak lyrical themes, but it's also riveting, hypnotic and really very good indeed.
  17. 60
    Not many of the expansive, leisurely songs on Asleep In The Back stick in the memory once they've ended, but they swoon nicely. [Mar 2002, p.127]
  18. One of the best debut albums of the last five years.
  19. Establishing a languorous mood right away, the album is all meandering, low-key moods and textures, with precious few focused songs on which to hang them.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 15
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 15
  3. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. Jul 31, 2012
    Low key debut that lays out the blueprint that Elbow went onto develop and expand on. It's got a very strong first half but I feel it tapers off a bit in the 2nd half. That said, the closer "Scattered Black and Whites" is one of the albums highlights. Overall, it's a soft and gentle record with some really beautiful songs. Garveys vocals are perfect for the delicate instrumentation and like the records the produced afterwards, it's a record that just makes you feel warm inside. Full Review »
  2. Dec 10, 2010
    Absolutely beautiful album. Its filled with eerie and melancholy sounds mixed with some sweet riffs and effects. Definately worth a listen. Slow, moody, at times melancholy, but by no means boring. Full Review »
  3. MrMikey
    Aug 24, 2004
    Cracking debut, 10 years in the making. Newborn is the stand out track for me as I just feel that its a full on aural assault of the best possible kind. Slow to mid tempo? Yes. Boring? Anything but. Full Review »