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Think British Sea Power think damp canvas, think impressionism of the highest order, think Brighton; fish and chips along a windy, wet sea front, and think bird watching, maybe in the Lake District somewhere. Deary me its mundane. Drab, dreary, dry, dull, flat?moth eaten, much like the canvas the sleeve to BSP?s debut L.P. was clearly cut from. And since when was rock and roll inspired by Mother Nature herself? Rock?n?roll is all about the sex, the drugs, the dancing, the need for speed. Most of which seems to be lacking here. Yawn. Like a group of overgrown boy scouts, turned down by the army for eccentricity reasons, British Sea Power march into a town near you, armed with a group of stuffed fury friends and ready to leave you shaken and swaying?at the same time. Only it doesn?t quite all work like that. On paper a lot of things look good. On paper communism might work, as might the great British ferret tracker (which incidentally picked up transmissions from Radio Moscow, rather than monitoring the murderous progress of our furry little friends). Then again what might have happened had Led Zeppelin had listened to the critics of 1970 and packed it all in? Visually British Sea Power are the epitome of boring ? eccentricity may have worked wonders for Einstein?s image but its unlikely to work to the same effect for these guys, but for a band that appears so?tired, the formula behind what this band is, is remarkably refreshing. How frightfully delightful. I say, what?s this? That?s a bit unorthodox isn?t it? But isn?t it in the great tradition of music that opening tracks grab you and blind you and rock you and demonstrate everything a band can do? These guys can?t even sing! Opener ?Men Together Today? takes us on what appears to be a brief trip through one of Britain?s many monasteries. And if that sort of thing just doesn?t appeal to you well Britain has much to offer; from Scapa Flow to Rotherhithe (Carrion), wistful shorelines,
clingy tight-knit inbred coastal communities and unique wildlife lie in store if you?d just let yourself into this world of eccentricity and bizarreness. Like catching a glimpse of Britain?s very own Moulting Black Tern, British Sea Power are a waited for, if slightly unexpected surprise. What could be more exiting right now than a group of fresh faced, bored teenagers from Leeds, clad in t-shirts that barely touch their midriffs, ready to give anything to be American? A band that?s proud to be British? Spiffing! Perhaps the ultimate strength of British Sea Power is their intention on being so utterly normal. This normality ensures they stand out a mile in the rock scene today ? a band that dresses like your dad is now the alternative kids! The initial problem with British Sea Power is the unfortunate similarity between songs. Repeated listening will ensure you can tell them apart but on initial hearing ?Fear of Drowning? becomes ?The Lonely? which in turn becomes ?Blackout?. So yes its one of ?those? albums. The second problem therefore is then as you listen to it repeatedly you?ll begin to get sick of it, and maybe wish for something with a bit of emotion or ?diversity. This is a shame because ultimately British Sea Power do have a unique talent for doing what they do and doing it well. Simple bass lines, steady drum beats and weighty chord patterns ? think David Bowie singing for a band of ex-army sergeants. ?Apologies To Insect Life?, one of the best here, is a frantic ride through the mind of a schizophrenic or being taken on a LSD trip. There?s nowhere to turn climaxing and falling, twisting and turning, before its abrupt end. Rich in grandeur and simplicity, unfortunately follow up ?Favours in the Beetroot Fields? is just a mess, in the same way as its predecessor, only without the good parts. Shame that. Penance is however made in the form of later tracks ?Something Wicked? and ?Carrion? ? similar tracks in themselves which both
live to serve as reminders to those who thought Travis and Starsailor were today?s indie scene, that indie can actually be fun. With choruses that float, carved from verses that chug along with such ease, the bands widespread and growing fan base can be explained. ?Remember Me? and ?The Lonely? however anchor any aspirations you may have held for this album firmly towards the good end of average ? a pleasant listen at best. And haven?t we heard ?Fear of Drowning? somewhere before? ?Blackout fits into the above category and album closer ?A Wooden Horse? a jolly piano ditty rolls you towards the end of something both different and average. The best showcase of the bands talent here is ?Lately? ? narrowly short of 14 minutes in length, a feat which most bands would struggle to achieve without sounding repeated, dull, apathetic and weary. Done in style, ?Lately? is the reason British Sea Power are better than The Coral, The Zutons and any other eccentric indie bands this country seems to have produced this side of the year 2000. Building and falling, gliding smoothly before the confused climax and finish. Falling shrapnel anyone? This is gutsy. Its gutsy for a band like British Sea Power to merely exist today, and its heart warming to see the band, having jumped in at the deep end, float, supported by what has become a legendary fan-base, a few good tracks, and an image so normal its alternative nature makes sure its in your face. On ?The Lonely? vocalist ?Yan? croons in his deep Bowie-like voice ?I believe bravery exists? ? heres proof if proof were needed. Brave? Yes! ...yet lacking. ?We ourselves may be loved only for a brief time? reads the sleeve. Two paths lie in front of British Sea Power now: they can soar like ?Carrion? or ?Something Wicked?, improve, risk everything and succeed in becoming something this country can be proud of?or they can become lost in a sea of nothingness like the novelty indie acts before them. It?s a fair sta
rt but motion, forward motion that is, is now imperative, before the stormy clouds cover Brighton, the birds head south for the winter and a decline is, indeed, on the cards. And that would indeed be a great shame; after all with a name like British Sea Power, the aspirations of this band are obvious. Today Brighton...tomorrow the world!...touchwood.
British Sea Power are an odd band. I mean that in the nicest possible way but they are certainly ? well a bit strange. It could be their campaign to stop the automation of lighthouses in the UK, something not too high on Noel Gallagher?s priorities. Possibly it is their extraordinary live shows which involve stuffed birds and animals and foliage decorating the stage, plus the bands affection to all things from around the 1940s from dress sense to pretty much anything else and a taste for bird watching. Then again it might just be the music that sets them aside from any other bands, a decent British indie band comes up again to surface. British Sea Power have threatened to stun the UK for some time now. You get the feeling if and when they do it could be a big culture shock. All the above things are true about the band, especially the very good music. This album is the bands first full release, having made a few singles before this, and a growing live reputation came before this. A double A side Carrion/Apologies to Insect Life made the top 40 a few weeks ago, sadly they were not asked to appear on Top of the Pops. Three quarters of the band are originally from the Lake District, but moved down south to relocate in Brighton when the band started to get serious. Yan, Wood, Hamilton and Noble (no second names in this band) have made an interesting start to the music world. They have a gimmick in all their background. That may amuse some people, it may irritate others but at the end of the day you can take all that or leave it and just concentrate on the music. Driven by guitars, bringing back memories strangely close to Echo and the Bunnymen but on a par with any indie band you could care to name now. The drumming is superb, guiding the album along while a real selling point are the vocals from Yan. Almost sounding like David Bowie they add a touch of class to the album, while it fits in perfectly with the tone of the album. They are an intelligent band,
name checking authors like Jaroslav Hasek while their lyrics are slightly off the wall, it is in a good way done with humour. How else would you be able to get Scapa Flow and Rotherhide in the same line, let alone in the same rock album? They manage it, and just every so often there is a line that catches your imagination. Pretty much anyone could enjoy the album, there is a nice mixture of songs. While you may laugh at the band, you have to appreciate that this is one of the best albums of this year, and should not be missed. 1. Men Together Today A single 40 odd second long intro starts off the album. I?m not a particularly large fan of silly intros before the music really starts, but this is eerie and really sets the scene. Hard to describe it well, sort of a mysterious, almost mythical vocal harmony is not really scary in a spooky sense, but an enthralling start to grab your attention. 2. Apologies to Insect Life The start of the album proper opens with a hyperactive song just the sort to have you bouncing off the walls. The vocals move erratically and threaten to loss control and sound great. The guitars drive the hive of activity, while the bass and drums are used to control the song. Controlled chaos of sorts, great to listen to. 3. Favours in the Beetroot Fields Just look at a few of these titles, just a little strange. Sounds very similar to the previous track, so much so the two run in together and you may miss the link. The drumming really controls the track so well, while the vocals are again very excitable. Misses out on the quality of the first track, but a decent song. 4. Something Wicked. A change of pace and direction for the album, the fourth track drops down into the second main style of the album. The vocals move from rock screech to a dreamy and whispering tone in the mould of Bowie. The guitars are there to provide delicate touches, again the drums drive the whole song. Another really g
ood song, but leaves the best for the other parts of the album 5. Remember Me One of the best songs on the album, this track has it all. A stunning opening guitar riff in the intro sets up the song in the best possible taste, before the rest of the track knocks you down. More instantly catchy, powered by the guitars and melody hooks and has a fantastically uplifting and euphoric chorus. Just alive with energy, the album captures it well, but is even better live 6. Fear of Drowning Takes on the nautical theme of the band, the intro is the lapping waves of the ocean, while the lyrics create images of the coastal. Another dreamy track, with backing vocals adding to the hushed tone of the song. A powerful guitar riff is always there underlining the song. Once again is a great song, in a packed middle section of the album. 7. The Lonely Another fine track, just ever so slightly off from the previous few. Ends on a nice guitar solo, but musically is thinner than a few other tracks. Less power is put behind the song, but the track has some fantastic lines, ?Just like Liberace/I will return to haunt you with peculiar piano riffs? and ?I'll drink all day and play by night/Upon my Casio, electric piano?. That?s the sorts of line the album delivers, 8. Carrion The album probably reaches its height here, perhaps the stand out track. Like a few other tracks it takes the mesmerising whispered vocals that sound just fantastic here, plus the guitar flicks that make the song special. A wonderful song, its just fantastic. Its also the one that manages to get Scapa Flow and Rotherhide in the song, ?From Scapa flow to Rotherhithe, I felt the lapping of an ebbing tide?, while the whole song is just full of abstract lyrical twists. 9. Blackout Slightly poorer track, suffers a bit following on from Carrion probably the best track on the album. Nice enough song, more relaxing in tone with gentle guitar pieces and softe
r lyrics. By no means a bad song, and very easy listening. 10. Lately It?s a brave effort to put an epic 14-minute track onto a debut album. That is what British Sea Power have done here, and it does manage to work really well. Slow in starting, and comes into a mellow vocal section with soft vocals with a slightly more up tempo chorus then moves through a variety of instrumental parts and various solos. It transports you through a range of emotions and is very draining to listen through but worth the effort. Another track that sounds even better live though, but fantastic here none the less. 11. A Wooden Horse Bringing you back down after nearly quarter of an hour on the same track, the album tails off with another dramatic song. Much shorter at less than five minutes it is almost as captivating for some reason. There is very little to the song really, soft vocals over a nicely paced tune that is relatively quiet. A good note to end on, with a lot more mystery and it intrigues you as a listener. Just check out these guys, on the Internet www.britishseapower.co.uk. See if you like their style, and then try them for yourselves. It is not just a cheap trick, but a fantastic album and one of the few new bands you could get genuinely excited about. You have to see them live, it is something else to witness. Meanwhile just go out and buy this album, it is a fantastic achievement musically as well as a great band.