Jeff Lynne's ELO: From Out of Nowhere review – it's a pleasure to have him back

Lynne has come out of semi-retirement with an album of creamy harmonies and good-natured pop, firmly in the lineage of classic ELO

There’s something rather heartwarming about the return of Jeff Lynne’s ELO. While being a semi-retired rock star, forced out of the fray by the passing tides of fashion, is no one’s idea of a hard life, it’s also not what anyone with a yearning to make music for an audience wants for themselves. It all turned round for Lynne in 2014, when Radio 2’s head of music, Jeff Smith, persuaded him to headline the station’s Hyde Park concert. Five years on, the new-look ELO have had a platinum album, played Wembley Stadium and filled multiple arenas.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO: From Out of Nowhere album art work
Jeff Lynne’s ELO: From Out of Nowhere album art work Photograph: Publicity Image

It’s a surprising turn of events, as Lynne acknowledges on Time of Our Life, which recounts that Wembley show, rather in the manner of a small child telling you about their brilliant trip to Alton Towers: “As we played on it came to me / That this could be the best night we’d ever seen.” You’d need a heart of stone not to be touched by his absolute joy.

Like its predecessor, Alone in the Universe, this album is entirely good-natured, firmly in the lineage of classic ELO, without ever quite hitting the heights of the past. Sometimes you fear he’s worked with so many people he’s forgotten which ideas are his and which were theirs. Down Came the Rain has, in places, a more than passing resemblance to Tom Petty’s Walls, though at least it’s a very good song to resemble. It’s one of many pleasures here: Losing You is a delicious, stately ballad that – as good ELO songs always have done – sounds like the Beatles extrapolated to their logical extreme. Even the less appealing moments – the workaday boogie of One More Time, the bongos-and-twangy-guitar soft pop of All My Love – are elevated by Lynne’s way with extra elements: creamy harmonies, unexpected chord changes. How far this autumnal romance will go remains to be seen but, for now, what a pleasure it is to have Lynne back.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jessy Lanza: Love Hallucination review – a sensual producer’s pursuit of pleasure
The uniquely puckish Canadian electronic artist spans pop and beguiling abstraction on her fourth album, as she writes about boldly confronting her needs

Laura Snapes

21, Jul, 2023 @7:30 AM

Article image
Sault: 5 / 7 review – intriguing grooves from a mystery funk machine
No one seems to know who they are, but one thing is sure: Sault make hooky, dubby, funky music with echoes of ESG and Can

Alexis Petridis

20, Dec, 2019 @11:00 AM

Article image
Sophia Kennedy: Monsters review – showtunes and sub-bass from sonic shapeshifter
Unable to categorise the Baltimore-born, Hamburg-bred artist, you are thrown into her disarming, disorientating but oddly relaxing emotional world

Rachel Aroesti

07, May, 2021 @7:30 AM

Article image
Mura Masa: RYC review – so mediocre, it's not even entertainingly bad
Clairo, Tirzah and Slowthai and other guests can’t polish the turds on producer Alex Crossan’s profoundly awful second album

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

10, Jan, 2020 @8:00 AM

Article image
Dawn Richard: Second Line review – joy and mess from a musical eccentric
The former Diddy collaborator brings Black female perspective to the fore in an ambitious collection of electronic sound

Kemi Alemoru

23, Apr, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Banks: III review – a break from dark R&B doesn't quite pay off
Her third album is a less-than-convincing attempt to lighten the old experimentalism in favour of chart-friendly ballads

Aimee Cliff

12, Jul, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
Nova Twins: Supernova review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week
The genre-splicing pair’s sharp, concise songwriting makes for a mindblowing blast of distorted noise-pop – and destroys the narrative about who gets to make rock music

Alexis Petridis

16, Jun, 2022 @11:00 AM

Article image
Hannah Diamond: Reflections review – trance-pop rescued from good taste
On these melancholy bangers, the PC Music singer uses nursery rhyme-like melodies and a girlish sing-song delivery to essay the pain of being lovelorn and vulnerable

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

22, Nov, 2019 @10:30 AM

Article image
Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? review | Laura Snapes' album of the week
Without the burden of reinvention, Ware’s fourth album of defiantly sexy, plush post-disco is a flirtatious joy

Laura Snapes

04, Jun, 2020 @11:41 AM

Article image
Disclosure: Energy review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week
With nightclubs closed during coronavirus, the third album from the British pop-house duo has an unwittingly mournful quality

Alexis Petridis

27, Aug, 2020 @11:00 AM