Releasing numerous albums over their 14 year career, British Sea Power (BSP) have risen to moderate fame. Originally called British Air Power, BSP later named themselves after a single on their first production – a 4-track demo – and subsequently moved to Brighton where they hoped to find a more vibrant music scene. They succeeded, falling into the path of Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records, who subsequently signed them to the label.
BSP have generally received positive reviews for their albums, with their latest release ‘Let The Dancers Inherit The Party’ receiving a 4 star review from the Guardian, and older albums often reaching the 7’s and 8’s on Pitchfork’s online reviews. Only recently discovering BSP, it gives me the opportunity to review their latest album without bias.
It’s very rare that I think it necessary to comment on an album’s title or artwork, but for BSP’s latest release, these are characteristic of the whole album. ‘Let The Dancers Inherit The Party’ in itself is an odd title, evincing a similar air as Sun Kil Moon’s latest album ‘Common As Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood’: trying too hard. Equally, the album art attempts to be quirky and interesting. The band fail to live up to their ‘quirky’ title and artwork, doing little to justify the extravagance and only demonstrating that building up expectations too high is a recipe for disappointment. Their work isn’t new, and nor is it the best of its genre.
Opening with a 29 second track titled ‘Intro’ – which is effectively the beginning of the second track (thus could’ve been integrated intro track two), Let The Dancers is a 48 minute album in which BSP combine half-baked guitar riffs with ill-considered lyrics to produce sub-par indie-rock (as is the case with so many current bands), followed by a Sigur Ros imitation to close. A toxic mix of Spiritualised, Franz Ferdinand and Race Horses, BSP produce something which can be listened to just once before being shelved for the bands above.
Track six, entitled ‘Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde)’ epitomises the album: bog-standard guitar riffs over what could well be an electronic drum track, met by uneventful lyrics which every so often lead up to an okay-at-best chorus. What makes this track stand out is a band member shouting “Sechs Freunde!” (“Six friends”, if you wish to know) sporadically throughout the song. After a while, the novelty wears off: the track and its German subtitle becomes quite annoying. The sad thing is that this is the best track on the album!
Not heavy enough to match ‘Pixies’, quirky enough to be ‘Race Horses’ or catchy enough to be ‘Franz Ferdinand’, BPS’s new album sits out in musical wilderness and, lacking any stand-out qualities, it can do nothing but stay there. Tolerable for a while, the album is worth maybe a single listen, but most will most likely visit and never revisit again. Matching Sun Kil Moon on both pretentiousness and disappointment, it would be very easy to give it the same two star review. However, unlike Sun Kil Moon’s latest release, BPS have done little to experiment, and for that reason, the first single star review is given.
Artist: British Sea Power
Label: Caroline International
Release date: March 31, 2017
Play time: 48 mins
Standout track: Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde)