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Brighton’s Eccentrics Continue On Their Road Less Travelled.
Eamonn Seoige, 17 Jan 2011
Despite existing far beyond the realms of mainstream recognition, British Sea Power remain a much-loved band, consistently producing clever and instantly recognisable music for their loyal band of disciples.
Their work is nothing if not ambitious and draws on grandiose themes that are mercifully out of step with whatever indie trend happens to be temporarily in vogue.
In the past, BSP have brought us tales of pioneering airmen, Arctic ice shelves and insect life, while decorating their live shows with stuffed animals, tree branches and even finding time to perform atop China’s Great Wall.
Like many of music’s cult figures from the margins (The Fall, Teenage Fanclub, to name but two), BSP will always have an audience, drawn by their unwavering commitment to the cause.
While the spectacular debut The Decline of British Sea Power remains a defining moment, this less frenetic opus will undoubtedly please devotees too.
Valhalla Dancehall is standard issue, British Sea Power; a collection of lyrically offbeat and often outlandish songs, that drift from moody, anthemic ballads into bursts of joyous, sonic euphoria. This time around, however, matters aren’t as melodically linear and it sometimes lacks the songwriting consistency of earlier releases, particularly the twisted pop of ‘Open Season’.
Noisy soundscapes that descend into chaotic drum/guitar fuzz are more commonplace, chiefly on the rabble-rousing opener ‘Who’s In Control’.
The album’s undoubted highpoint is the wonderfully epic ‘Mongk II’, while final track ‘Moving Closer’ possesses a stirring self-confidence that demands repeat airing.
Elsewhere, ‘Thin Black Sail’ evokes the barely contained, frantic enthusiasm of their debut record.
A sizeable chunk of the second half of Valhalla Dancehall flirts with being bland and overblown, especially ‘Once More Now’, which clocks in at a grossly inflated 10 minutes.
Nevertheless, in an industry increasingly populated by crashing bores, it’s hats off to Yan, Noble, Hamilton and Wood for continuing to fight the good fight.