Elbow’s 2008 album, The Seldom Seen Kid, earned the veteran British rock band their country’s highest honor: the Mercury Prize for best album. Now, they’re back with its follow-up, Build a Rocket Boys, which hits digital outlets today. Hear a live version of “Jesus Is a Rochdale Girl” here.
LISTEN: Elbow, “Jesus Is a Rochdale Girl”
As SPIN editor in chief Doug Brod writes in our album review, the songs on Rocket “occupy the space between So-era Peter Gabriel and OK Computerera Radiohead,” which isn’t surprising considering frontman Guy Garvey spent time with Gabriel while working on the record.
“I was down there at Peter’s studio, which is just outside of Bath, in a beautiful part of England, writing lyrics, and he popped in for a cup of tea,” Garvey tells SPIN. “He told me how he would get on a train somewhere, that writing on a train always helped. I find I agree with him.”
Rocket finds Garvey looking back at his younger days, a subject that made sense to explore, especially after the success of Seldom Seen Kid. “A whole record about how I love my new house? People wouldn’t have been into that,” Garvey jokes. “They want shade and nostalgia and heartbreak — all of this is in my past.”
“Jesus Is a Rochdale Girl” is true to this theme, a delicate and candid song about a woman named Cath, an ex-girlfriend of Garvey’s from his twenties, who he still knows. “I lived in this shitty house with no heater,” the singer recalls. “She was an angel that would come across and play records with me. We were in love. I’d lost my faith in God around that time as well and needed a new Jesus. She took that role.”