I don't particularly like to compare music- I'm not into the whole awards thing because I feel like two different artists could have equally great albums for different reasons and there's enough room in my music collection for more than just one album a year. But at the same time I want to say that of the music I've listened to which has been released in 2020, "We Three" by Hey Elbow has to be up there as an album of the year contender for those who subscribe to such notions. This is not just one of the most powerful albums I've heard in 2020 but it's one of the most powerful albums I've heard in my entire life.
Following the release of "C0C0C0" this is the third album from Hey Elbow and if you're not into them yet what are you waiting for? The first song- "Missit"- has this mantra of "denying is easy" and then "admitting is hard" and I feel like that applies to the world on whole right now, but also just look deep inside yourself while listening to this song and see what you can uncover. There is a dark drone with horns and then sonar frequencies bring the song to its end. That drone continues into the next song and seems to connect them and then there is also some heavy drumming.
The lyrics on "Nurture/Aptitude" take us through many similar statements which mean different things but perhaps my favorite is when they all come down to: "We can never see a future they didn't show us" It's such a powerful and rebellious anthem. This takes us into the third song, "Vignette", which mostly just has a's as the lyrics, though I still believe this is one of the single greatest albums based upon its lyrics alone. It's one of those times where not only will you listen to the slow drone with a clear trumpet playing through and think about this being trippy jazz, but you'll also quote the lyrics in whatever the 21st Century version of away messages might be.
These big, deep, dark vocals can put you into a trance. "Eternal" feels so cinematic and "Push" just gets the deepest of synths. "Life Hack" has synths and drums take over as the lyrics say "You know it's always there for you" repeatedly and there's just this expanding synth bass as the whole album comes to an end on the song "Drainit" and the words come out "Deeper, deeper". This one definitely goes out with a bang.
How can you even describe this sound Hey Elbow has created without just listening to it? It's not quite that same synth-based feel as Pink Floyd or Rush, but there are elements of that which you could pick out at times. In the same sense, I could compare this with Metric or Slothrust but only in the general way that I tend to compare almost every artist with them in some way. Hey Elbow has just found this brooding sound which doesn't make you want to sit in your room and do nothing, but rather get out there and raise hell- to fight the injustice in the world and within yourself. Hey Elbow has discovered the most powerful weapon of all.