One of the many UK bands that took Brit-pop and stripped out the fun parts, Elbow has received the kind of endorsements—from critics as well as musicians like John Cale and R.E.M.—that would suggest something more innovative than what it’s produced over the past decade. Led by celebrated wordsmith Guy Garvey, the Manchester quintet moves along with distinctly English high drama, but the end result tends to be more showy than powerful. However, the expert use of strings on 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid distilled its sad-sackiness into potent pop, and deservedly won them UK’s cherished Mercury Prize. This year’s Build A Rocket, Boys! lost out to P.J. Harvey, but patient fans of grandiose, proggy Brit-pop and inventive sonic tinkering will find themselves handsomely rewarded.