Friday, February 8, 2008

Insert Clever Headline in Response to Do You Like Rock Music?

Released on Valentine's Day, British Sea Power's third full-length album definitely doesn't disappoint. I've been a fan of British Sea Power since I first heard of them four years ago (oddly enough, I discovered them via a British men's fashion magazine because I was writing an essay on men's magazines for my Rhetoric of Gender class). Based in Brighton, they're known for obscure references and incredible live shows. When I bought their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, four years back, I wasn't quite sure how to classify them. The singer, Yan, has a breathy voice that sounds like a mixture of Ian McCulloch, Richard Butler, and David Bowie, and their music was guitar pop that moved from angularity to sweeping washes of sound. Their second album, Open Season, was received favourably enough by critics, but nothing above average - perhaps because it was a more produced and pop-friendly record.

This album brings them back to a more experimental sound, but no less accessible. Lights Out for Darker Skies has a mighty guitar riff that is both jubilant and wistful while the lyrics give a nod to Dylan Thomas. Waving Flags is anthemic, and as it references the Vistula River in Poland, my interpretation is one about immigration in Britain, especially the influx from Eastern European countries. Of course that could just be me being pretentious. Down on the Ground is a fabulously shiny rock song with pumping guitars pulsing through it like liquid sunshine. No Lucifer begins with a powerful fist-pumping chant reminiscent of Arcade Fire that would rouse thousands to some noble cause; however, judging by the lyrics, it's a wonderfully hidden cause - not exactly Sympathy for the Devil, more like arm yourself for the Apocalypse. Then again, heading to Sodom rather than Megiddo seems like "let's avoid the whole End of Days battlefield and party while the world falls down instead." Atom is a delightfully fuzzy, distorted affair that begins with a simple piano line but bursts into a guitar-and-drum-driven cacophony. They seem to achieve everything The Strange Death of Liberal England was attempting to, but couldn't deliver.

British Sea Power has always rocked and their lyrics are challenging, cryptic, and brilliant. So, rather than try a clever line about this album's title, I'll just say that British Sea Power is definitely not in decline.

Waving Flags - British Sea Power

Down on the Ground - British Sea Power

No Lucifer - British Sea Power

No comments: