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British Sea Power
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  • The Decline Of British
  • Sea Power,
  • Open Season,
  • Do You Like Rock Music?,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    British Sea Power

    The Decline Of British Sea Power( 2003 )
    Men Together Today / Apologies To Insect Life / Favours In The Beetroot Fields / Something Wicked / Remember Me / Fear Of Drowning / The Lonely / Carrion / Blackout / Lately / A Wooden Horse

    A strangely titled guitar band hailing from Brighton and with certain retro influences, fitting easily onto the new Rough Trade roster. There are important differences between British Sea Power and the likes of The Strokes, however. Or even between British Sea Power and the celebrated and far more famous Libertines. British Sea Power have influences ranging from Echo And The Bunnymen, The Pixies, 80s goth in general. All mixed in with a dash of proper song-writing and proper guitar wielded melodies. The vocals are often slightly off-kilter, slightly a-quiver. Generally fairly deeply intoned and rich, however. None more so than on the brief and surprising wordless acapella opener that seagues wonderfully into the storming and aggressive 'Apologies To Insect Life'. Guitars slash and distort, the vocals scream out interestingly strange lyrics and those comparisons with The Pixies make sense. 'Favours In The Beetroot Fields' keeps the album rooted in aggressive indie guitar rock before an absolute gem arrives with album highlight, 'Something Wicked'. From listening to the first three tracks, songs two and three especially, you could be forgiven for dismissing British Sea Power as just 'quite good'. 'Something Wicked' is a mid-tempo slow-burner pop/rock classic, infused with wide-screen emotion and proper song-structure. And yeah, it's at this point that the album really takes off, 'Remember Me' returning the sound of the group to aggressive guitars yet retaining the pop structure of a 'Something Wicked'. 'Fear Of Drowning' and 'Carrion' are both stand-outs and 'The Lonely' slows everything down, a measured and thoughtful ballad.

    Sadly, the album rather tails off, two fairly uninteresting songs sandwich an ambitious thirteen minute long piece of over-reaching ambition not yet fully realised. Yeah, 'Lately' is the 'piece' in question, a song in various sections ending ultimately with three minutes or so of guitar-wigout and messy psychedelics. Yet even taking into account this tailing off towards the end, 'The Decline Of British Sea Power' remains a fascinating and enjoyable listen, a proper debut album, indeed. Certainly not the finished article but containing enough hints at real potential, potential that should they find a way to control their more outlandish tendencies, could well see them produce a classic in a few albums time.

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    Readers Comments

    Elko ellisjones@gmail.com
    Without doubt the finest album of the year so far, from one of the few innovative and interesting British bands around right now.

    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    "Remember Me" is almost worth the admission fee alone. What a wonderful, refreshing, hype free, guitar band. They sound like so many others, yet have a really sharp sound of their own. 8/10.

    Danny danny@leftoffthedial.com
    7 and 1/2? Do you still feel this album doesn't deserve more? I was hesitant to praise these guys for awhile, but this album has continually impressed me for too long now not to give it credit. I imagine you've listened more carefully since reviewing, but how could "Blackout" and "A Wooden Horse" be unintersting? The latter has one of the loosest metaphors I've ever heard in a rock lyric and it is truly a poetic thing of shear wonder by means of its simplicity. And "blackout" is certainly a tearjerker if you ever needed one. Live, they didn't impress me as much (I did only see them after the keyboardist quit), but the more experimental stuff like "Lately" and "Apologies..." stole the show, so I now deem every track on this CD essential.

    El Gonzo Grande
    Emo bands try to emulate Victorian/Wildian sensibilities into their lyrics about girls removing them from their MySpace 'friend' list, but if there actually were rock bands around in the early 1900's, I'm fairly sure they would sound not unlike BSP. Remember Me has been one of my favourite songs for quite some time now, Carrion is fantastically loud-yet-pretty. I've also just discovered Blackout, which is stunning. Oh and 'Fear of Drowning'has a delicious urgency to it. Something Wicked? I don't know. Pretty, but gets a bit too Pink Floydish for me after repeated listening . Overall, however, great stuff. Deserves an 8,5 upon prolonged exposure.


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    Open Season( 2005 )
    It Ended On An Oily Stage / Be Gone / How Will I Ever Find My Way Home / Like A Honeycomb / Please Stand Up / North Hanging Rock / To Get To Sleep / Victorian Ice / Oh Larsen B / The Land Beyond / True Adventures

    An eight minute pysch fest ends this album, but it ends the album on a suitable note. Not stuck betweeen two average songs as was 'Lately' from the debut album. For me personally, 'True Adventures' is about the only bad thing about this second British Sea Power album. Yes, they've improved. Most noticeably with a handful of songs that overcome the groups limitations instrumentally as they are just so well written and so emotionally presented. 'Please Stand Up' sounds almost like the best rock song I've heard in a good ten years, that's how good it is. No great playing, no great vocals. Just.... something. A well written song with vocals that are slightly wayward, yet remind you enough of great vocalists that you don't mind. Music that is presented with passion and is wound up in a song with beatles-great melodies. So no, not original melodies, because no beatles melodies ever were, yet it never stopped them. British Sea Power just have a huge conviction, and for this album, for the most part, such superb song arrangements. And oh, 'Be Gone' is an utter classic song. I'm serious here, stupendous lyrics that place evocative images in your mind without clearly being about any single thing, too obviously. Obviously, these are the best kind of lyrics. Some story-telling type lyrics ( dylan, beatles ) are too obvious in their poetic meaning. It loses edge. Lyrics that are often less accomplished poetically from a point of view of the english language, and clearly intellectually mean less, are often far more attractive. British Sea Power lyrics for this album and for 'Be Gone' are like some kind of romantic artistic painting. Don't investigate, just appreciate. That's how music should be and the best moments from this album are about as good as music gets. 'To Get To Sleep' is almost filler for the second half of the album, yet even this has good merit to it.

    'North Hanging Rock' flows on from 'Please Stand Up' like a second part to that song. Makes 'Please Stand Up' nearly eights minutes long in total, if you care to think of it that way, an immense and beautifully soft, largely instrumental four and a half minute coda to a poptastic rock single. A great idea. Oh, for sure there are a couple of songs on the album that are average, mostly because they don't advance the BSP sound. The album could do with slightly more variety than it has, a couple of sheer quirky songs, brief ones, to make a listener smile at the stupidity of it all. You know, like the best albums by The Fall. As it is, opener 'It Ended Up On An Oily Stage' is stupendous enough to make you enjoy this album for what it is. Superb. It's not quite a classic, but British Sea Power clearly have the potential to make a classic. They're nearly there already.

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    Readers Comments

    Elko ellisjones@gmail.com
    Without doubt the finest album of the year so far, from one of the few innovative and interesting British bands around right now.

    Billy Liar glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    I very much liked your review however I didnít see 'Victorian Ice' mentioned I only say this because I think it is possibly the strongest on the album and also a great direction for the sea power to go in. This is a very smart 2nd album and itís also a real grower many people have said in reviews I have seen that they are disappointed because the album lack of passion and the intensity of the vocal has gone. How can this be so itís the coolness in the deliverance that makes it different and makes it the sea power its like heís letting it all out from the sidelines saying heís thoughts out loud I think the passion is there. Well I hope it is, anyway I think itís perhaps more consistent than the first album so I will say 9 out of ten. Or 8 1/2 it deserves that kind of score. Good job

    Joe
    Thank you thank you thank you for getting my attention back to this lot. These lads sound like nothing else bar an Avro Lancaster crew just before being on their way to a certain death over Berlin circa 1942. So powerful, so British, so Beautiful...


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    Do You Like Rock Music?( 2008 )
    All In It / Lights Out For Darker Skies / No Lucifer / Waving Flags / Canvey Island / Down On The Ground / A Trip Out / The Great Skra / Atom / No Need To Cry / Open The Door / We Close Our Eyes

    From the lovely town of Brighton, these seafarer's third album once again bravely attempts to match expectations. Such expectations are raised every time they give us new music, it seems. 'Atom' and 'Down On The Ground' have already appeared on their marvellous 'Krankenhaus?' EP. In addition to those, we gain ten new songs although not without controversy. I've long bemoaned British Sea Power messing around, particularly with the final track on their albums. Yet again, here, we have a nonsense quiet sound for ten minutes to close the album inconclusively and rather annoyingly at the same time, as if the guys deliberately need to sabotage themselves. Still, ignoring that final track ( and it's best to do so ) British Sea Power do indeed continue to perform far better than we have any right to expect them to do so. The lyrics continue to be about things other lyrics just fail to be about. Let's take the single, 'Waving Flags'. 'You are astronomical, fans of alcohol, so welcome in. A rising in the east and setting in the west, all waving flags'. A song actually pro-immigration, it would seem, welcoming in our Polish friends, etc. Well, it says far more than that, actually. The song is classic British Sea Power, incidentally. A breathy, breathless vocal with music continually rising to the heavens as if flying to the sun using wings of feathers, only to frustratingly fall short as your arms and legs start to burn. British Sea Power may well not be the best live attraction in the country, yet the songwriting knows no bounds. That they try their very best and have ideas outside the usual boxes is to be applauded. Does that make sense? I applaude such special songs and 'Waving Flags' deserves to bring top ten success to the group, even if it falls just shy of being a song we'll still be humming to milkmen in ten years time.

    'Atom' was the lead track on the 'Krankenhaus?' EP and mighty fine is it to. Speedy drums, groovy two line bass parts, a clattering of Wedding Present music, 'A bright and haunted age', they sing. A further highlight arrives with another of the EP tracks, 'Down On The Ground', four and a half minutes of majesty. Opening with a stabbing and insistent guitar riff, mellow vocals open all dreamy-like. The chorus comes in and you smile as if a young boy just given a toy-tractor to play with. The chorus is one of those special British Sea Power things, they just know how to tug at your blood pressure and those things that make your spine go all tingly. 'Lights Out For Darker Skies' is a six minute, two part British Sea Power epic of sorts, revealing the bands ambition. I love them for their ambition. Not everything here is top of the poppermost and it may well be that the band stay in the second tier of indie-bands, never really making it big. Are they to remain frustratingly shy of absolute classic masterpiece status? Well, it appears so, but the ironically titled 'Do You Like Rock Music?' is another solid transmission from the boys that'll get you dancing and dreaming, both.

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    Readers Comments

    Elko ellisjones@gmail.com
    Without doubt the finest album of the year so far, from one of the few innovative and interesting British bands around right now.

    Daniel daniel.seton@gmail.com
    I predict you like this album more and more as you keep listening to it! I think it deserves a 9, if not more, although the final track is a bit disappointing. Apart from the songs you've mentioned, No Lucifer, No Need to Cry and the quietly epic Open the Door are some of BSP's best tracks, in my humble opinion.


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    Valhalla Dancehall 6 ( 2011 )
    Who's in Control? / We Are Sound / Georgie Ray / Stunde Null / Mongk II / Luna / Baby / Living Is So Easy / Observe the Skies / Cleaning Out the Rooms / Thin Black Sail / Once More Now / Heavy Water

    Yes, BSP still exist plugging ever onwards to a largely indifferent music audience speaking generally. I can't imagine them being anybodies absolute favourite band and that's the crux of the matter. Sure, the opening two tracks here are both anthemic enough to be enjoyable at any indie disco and have nodding heads from U2 fans etc, but neither track is quite as good as the highlights from the previous LPs. BSP have done this sort of thing better before and stylistically much the same as they are doing now. It's also worth noting, their previous two LPs nudged the top ten in the UK album charts and 'Valhalla Dancehall' doesn't seem to have enjoyed the same commercial success at all. Have they simply run out of steam? Occasionally, it doesn't appear so - the epic 'Georgie Ray' switches from quiet to epic skycraping loud, loud enough to reach the back of a festival field. Occasionally it does - 'Stunde Null' is a confused mess incorporating some bizarre electronic sounds. That's the rub, British Sea Power either stick to what they're good at or experiment and risk falling apart. You don't have to go all one way or another of course, yet some kind of natural evolution would be nice and I don't get the feeling BSP have done this. Where the likes of 'Open Season' were easier to enjoy with nice melodic pop/rock, 'Valhalla Dancehall' is humourless by comparison and comes across as a band simply trying far too hard.

    'Luna' pops up half-way through and thank god it does, this is simply a good tune without trying to hard to jump up and be noticed like a elder sibling put out by the a arrival. 'Mongk II' hints at an ever more indie-centric direction and is enjoyably energetic. 'Observe The Skies' is filler but good filler, the sound stripped back slightly to reveal.... well British Sea Power. Passion rather than too much bombast. 'Cleaning Out The Rooms' is an intriguing seven minutes of British Sea Power do shoegaze, very effective is it too, surprisingly so. 'One More Now' meanwhile is eleven minutes long and experiments once more with shoe-gaze, dream pop and ambient. It's utterly pointless, if not unplesant. Probably the sound of a different album entirely if we're telling the truth. The closing 'Heavy Water' sounds heavy in an unpleasant way, lumpy and clumpy. It's a disappointing end to what I hope isn't the end of BSP's career.

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    this page last updated 22/05/11


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