Great in 08.
After the malaise that sets in around November and December where the only new releases appear to be greatest hits and compilations to entice people who haven’t been in a record store since the previous festive period, January sees some new albums fighting for our gift vouchers or hard earned cash and one of the first out of the blocks is ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ by British Sea Power.
In the beginning, British Sea Power really used to annoy this reviewer. A few support slots for some bigger artists weren’t too favourable and the gimmick of the bear appearing on stage and the plant-life just seemed a way of masking their deficiencies and covering up for a lack of good songs. Things started to change slightly at the Leeds Festival in 2004 when one of the songs continually pumped out by the P.A. system in between bands was ‘Remember Me’ but any enjoyment from this was attributed to alcohol and sunshine, as opposed to the song itself. However, seeing them play in King Tuts when they embarked on a small club tour at the end of the cycle for their second album changed everything as the band appeared to have developed into a confident beast with a set full of hits.
The album has a strong mix of quiet moments followed by rollocking numbers designed to lift your spirits. ‘A Trip Out’ is exactly what many would prescribe to enliven themselves and appearing just beyond the halfway stage on the record does the same trick. This song and tracks like ‘Lights Out For The Darker Skies’ or ‘Atom’ feature the guitar playing at its most vigorous and while the other songs have their intricacies and subtleties, these numbers fizz with enough energy to carry some of the quieter moments through. ‘Atom’ draws to mind the moments where Spiritualized and Jason Pierce up the tempo and go mainlining down an uplifting chorus and guitar fuzz. These moments of vitality have been well sequenced to rush the listener back to life after some more measured moments and really aid the flow of the record.
The backing chant of ‘No Lucifer’ sounds suspiciously like the ‘Easy, Easy’ chant of old British wrestling, brought back to life Soccer AM and countless football fans the length and breadth of Britain and into the area of mass and/ or popular culture, which is not a place readily associated with British Sea Power. Perhaps their early shows, their interesting name and just overall impression and mood positioned the band as being decidedly apart from the average man in the street but, deep down, theres no reason why the majority of folk cannot enjoy the band and their work.
Sure, there is still an air of cleverness at times and ‘The Great Skua’ is an instrumental that simmers and builds to an orchestral feel that if was released by Sigur Ros would be hailed as a modern classic and would never be off BBC. They may not hail from Iceland but theres no reason to dismiss the BSP’s epic offering here just because they are a bit less exotic than potential providers of cinematic aural pleasures.
The album is book ended with the feel of monks chanting and indeed we are ‘All In It’ and the overall feeling is of an album that is going to stand up well as a collected piece of work. There are enough short and sparkling moments to be plundered for singles and to become live favourites at festivals but ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ impresses as a single body of work and is a great way to start the New Year off with a bang.