British Sea Power already have a rabid cult following, and if you’re part of that collection, stop reading now. There’s nothing I can write that will satisfy you. If you’re less familiar with the band, their new record, “Do You Like Rock Music,” is a pretty good place to start. It lacks the more experimental and untried elements in some of their earlier work, instead providing exclusively arena-style soaring rock.
This is their third album, and it finds the band tight and ready to take over the world. The urgency and passion is evident, for example, in “All In It,” a rousing, come-and-put-your-lighters-up song. Occasionally, the album begins to feel like bombast, though. “A Trip Out” and “Down on the Ground” are consecutive tracks that begin with exactly the same riff, but at different pitches, and I can’t say that they really go to different places with it, either. The latter is somewhat more soaring, but that’s not enough to distinguish between the two tracks.
Fortunately, there’s enough songs like “Canvey Island,” a sort of U2/Oasis hybrid—a shoegazer stadium anthem that builds over the lines, “I Can’t Believe It’s Happening” into an exploding chorus. The disc is heavy on Bono-style drama throughout, on the somewhat
patriotic protests of “Waving Flags,” the references to the Hitler Youth in “No Lucifer,” and so on. Not that it’s a bad thing to be so influenced by a highly successful mainstream band.
On this record, British Sea Power sound important and ambitious. The only question is whether there’s room for rock like this in the days of lagging sales. There’s actually not a lot I hear these days that have this early 90s arena sound. Last night I saw a documentary on John Lennon’s World Peace concert, and I was reminded of how astonishingly powerful and influential one musician can be. Is there anyone like that today? One might make the argument that U2 is capable of moving minds and hearts, but Bono is . . . Old. There’s no one new, no one young, and no one fresh, with the same power. Clearly, British Sea Power seek to fill that void. More power to them.
The Great Skua
Reprinted from my old site