Things have moved on in the last two years, as you are all doubtless aware, but British Sea Power, as befits their name, have nevertheless ploughed their own furrow (or, more appropriately, charted their own course), regardless of what's around them.
The usual, then? It certainly seems so from the enigmatic, minimalist 1940s-style sleeve. We see a hare jumping whilst a plane flies off into a cornflower blue background (oh, okay, thats the promo sleeve, sorry). As you will have surmised before I have even written these words, it's a classic British Sea Power cover.
It is also a hell of a record, despite a signal move towards softer climes, sonically. The first album "The Decline of British Sea Power" was restless, almost schizophrenic in it's delivery, it's considerable energy was sometimes dissipated by what I felt to be a certain nervousness. No matter, it was a well received disc, and rightly praised as a sign of things to come.
Things have moved on in the last two years, as you are all doubtless aware, but British Sea Power, as befits their name, have nevertheless ploughed their own furrow (or, more appropriately, charted their own course), regardless of what's around them. They are the brooding presence off-shore, keeping their guns trained on other targets, in some ways oblivious to what fashions are currently obsessing the trivial fashionistas.
I mentioned a softer side to their sound; "Like a Honeycomb" "North Hanging Rock" and "True Adventures" are the key tracks in this respect, much softer and (dare I say it) pastoral, both in their sound and lyrical content. It reminds me very much of the Pale Saints classic "The Comforts of Madness". "True Adventures" is the undoubted highlight, a beautiful, calming love song (to appropriately, the joys of walking in the countryside), interspersed with brutal noise. "Like A Honeycomb" is a brilliant anthem that has hit single written all over it, a song that has a marvellous anthemic chorus, and manages to pull out all the emotional stops in a very dignified, understated manner.
Elsewhere, you can hear an almost Velvetsy softness, "Be Gone" and "Get to Sleep" being good examples. Yann's vocals are much less abrasive, and I feel that it suits their sound overall. It is as if The Seapower have decided to test themselves in writing more reflective material, or, rather, just decided to assert their latent superiority in creative matters. It is certainly about time that they did so, for this is the band who kicked off the British Revival, not the Ferdinands. Harder sounds are found on the splendid "Oh Larsen B" a driving guitar drenched track lamenting the loss of the icecaps. It's truly devotional music, it is in no way trivial, but never mawkish, the sound is too edgy for that. No one else could really be this honest about such subjects without having to varnish their efforts in a veneer (however thin) of irony. And the keyboard noises are brill on this song. No one pulls out sounds like that anymore; it's like a long lost memory.
It has been too long since ""The Decline" was released, people will have forgotten just how good this band are. Not perfect by any means; not their masterpiece, but still far ahead of the competition.
Words : Richard Foster