British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

Ross Cunningham 04/01/2008

Rating: 4.5/5

Do You Like Rock Music? if the answer to that question is yes then British Sea Power's new LP should be one of your first purchases of 2008. I first discovered the Brighton based four piece in 2003 when they released their outstanding debut album "The Decline Of British Sea Power". It was full of surprises at every turn from harmonised chants to lyrics that convey images such as "gymnastic whores down on all fours". Their follow up 2005's "Open Season" while more polished and heavily produced also had glorious moments such as the love affair with Ice-shelf "Larsen B" and the anthem "Please Stand Up". British Sea Power are back to take us on another epic adventure, this time guiding us through encounters with among others, Lucifer, the Hitler Youth, a murdered swan and the almighty Atom.

Recorded in the three disparate locations of Canada, the Czech Republic and a 19th Century fort on the Cornish cliffs (typically BSP). With three different producer's Efrim Menuck of "God Speed You Black Emperor" fame, Howard Bilerman who drummed on the "Arcade Fire" debut album "Funeral" and Graham Sutton it would be easy to see how the album could suffer from too many differing ideas or influences. However "Do You Like Rock Music?" suffers from no such problems and has unquestionable cohesion throughout. The album contains a bookend effect thanks to opener "All In It" which grows from very little into an almost hypnotic repeated chorus of "we're all in it and we close our eyes" which relates directly to the album's final eight minute tune "We Close Our Eyes". The true genius however appears in-between those two songs. The other ten songs are ultimately the reason why "Do You Like Rock Music?" is such an accomplished album. The Songwriting duties have been split more evenly on this record than ever before with five Hamilton penned numbers appearing to Yan's seven and it's achieved a nice balance.

"Lights Out For Darker Skies" launches into a typical BSP sounding frenzied guitar riff backed by Wood smacking his drums with military precision. A lyrical nod to Dylan Thomas then follows with the line "like moths that get confused from all these man made moons, so go gentle into this dark, dark night", showing that BSP have lost none of their poetic prowess. "No Lucifer" is perhaps the obvious choice for the second single to be lifted from the album with a contagious rolling chorus and repeating chants of "Easy, Easy, Easy" which conjure up the mental picture of football fans singing when they're winning 5-0. The single "Waving Flags" which is released on the 7th of January completes the brilliant trio of opening songs (not counting "All In It" as it's more of an introduction). Many music magazines are already calling "Waving Flags" the festival song of 2008 and it's easy to see why with the obvious flag imagery, drink references and sing along lyrics.

The pace of the album shifts midway with the inclusion of "The Great Skua" which is a beautiful instrumental, laden with overlapped guitars and strings which will inevitably draw comparisons to the likes of Arcade Fire, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Sigur Ros. The transition back from instrumental "The Great Skua" is complete on the next track as after a slightly subdued first minute "Atom" changes into a furious guitar driven anthem. It jumps out and grabs you by the scruff of the neck, building up into ridiculously catchy shouts of "I just don't get it". British Sea Power's slower more thoughtful side is also showcased on tracks such as "No Need To Cry", "Canvey Island" and "Open The Door" which are much more reflective in nature and add yet another dynamic to the album. I could go into detail about the greatness of each song but ultimately you need to hear them to believe just how good they are. British Sea Power may have decided to no longer drape themselves in greenery but they will definitely still be part of the scenery in best album lists of 2008 (Yes I know it's only January but "Do You Like Rock Music?" is an amazing album).