Saturday, 5 January 2008

BRITISH SEA POWER: Do You Like Rock Music?

Do You Like Rock Music?, like all of the Brighton indie band British Sea Power’s releases, oozes sincerity and emotion. Don’t be put off by this; it’s very credible sincerity and emotion as sincerity and emotion go, and it’s been ages since any band managed to write a song about a flood on a Thames island in 1953 without sounding ridiculous.

The band, in its current incarnation, sounds a little bit like Joy Division tussling playfully with a post-rock band in a sunny meadow with a fashionable touch of Arcade Fire for good measure, and guitarist Martin Noble’s soaring guitar tone begins to pall slightly not too far into the album. Having said that, there’s a definite musical contrast between the cloudier first half of the album and the jolly second half. The band have a pretty good repertoire of moods, from the anthemic future single No Lucifer to the gentle chamber pop of No Need To Cry. The angular immediacy occasionally present on previous albums has gone, but to be fair, it never really
suited them anyway.

The lyrics, however, stay stormy all the way through. Even when they’re singing about something as highly benign as Czechs, beer and Czech beer (Waving Flags), they manage to be just cryptic enough to make it look like they’re making a point about immigration without it being at all clear what that point is. On bouncy album highlight A Trip Out, they sing “Out with the daggers / Off with the gloves / There is so much / That you can love”. They also mention the apocalypse repeatedly. I don’t really know what it’s about. However, despite its faults, British Sea Power have produced a convincing, accomplished album, probably their best yet. Fans won’t be disappointed, and converts will be made.

Saul Glasman

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