British Sea Power‘s much anticipated new album Valhalla Dancehall has sailed into harbour and I climbed aboard to see what was happening down the disco. Following on from their hugely well received LP Do You Like Rock Music a few years back and their intriguing album Isle of Arran which formed the soundtrack to a documentary, this offering from the Brighton boys consists of 13 tracks, ranging from the dreamy ballad ‘Baby’ to the post punk, bleak sounding ‘Thin Black Sail’, making for an album which takes some describing.
In the past they have been heavily compared to Arcade Fire, and there are songs here which are reminiscent of the Fire’s sound, but there are also Keane and Doves-sounding noises, none of which is a bad thing. This album is decidedly less ‘laddy’ with less shouting and the feeling of being the last people in a pub, all singing drunkenly along. It seems as though BSP have grown up and are making actual, proper music in places. There are some impressive guitar solos (although they are rather predictably in the same place in every song), some beautifully paced tunes like ‘Georgie Ray’ and the very English lyrics remain in place, thank god. It’s very dynamic and punchy in places which really works for them, and they have taken a few risks with the variety of moods included here, which is different from their previous works which for me seemed very samey throughout.
British Sea Power are slowly getting there, slowly reaching who they could be, but they aren’t quite there yet. Their music is interesting but not entirely unique, and they still, for me, are searching for their own individual sound.
Key Track: Heavy Water
From Lizz Page.