Tree hugging environmentalist UK indie band British Sea Power release their 4th full length album:
British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
The first thing that hits is the sheer scale of these BSP’s latest tunes, their ambition seems especially grand this time out. Many songs tower above the clouds with their trademark soft vocals always providing a warm backing.
Early album highlights Whose In Control & We Are Sound are the musical equivalant of sinking into an comfy chair putting your feet up in front of a log fire. Its just as warm as the radiator, but it feels special somehow. It does this without really pushing boundaries, familiar…but not generic.
There are brief glimpses of their long forgotten pizazz and drive on Stunde Null & Mongk II with attack & urgent exhasperated vocals. Recent years have seen BSP’s sound too easily overtaken with their more recent staple of grandiose compositions. The greatest offender on this ‘epic’ front is Cleaning out The Rooms, which is a failed attempt to create Hoppipolla Pt.2.
The moments of greatness are matched with pockets of overindulgence, with consecutive tracks Luna, Baby & Living Is So Easy drifting far too effortlessley in one psychadelic ear and out the other. It feels they have been eating too many field mushrooms for their own good.
Valhalla Dancehall is a strong album which is mainly melancholic, always grand, briefly superb and occasionally comatose.
Mr Flowers Says:
The jangly pop guitars which open the album in Who’s In Control promises yet another triumphant return for British Sea Power with all the hallmarks of a great BSP song; a rousing chorus, layers of guitars, and replete with a weird scream sound effect to top it off.
Unfortunately it does mark somewhat of a decline as the album starts taking on murky water. A series of drony, forgettable songs are only really broken up by the squealing guitars of Mongk II, drinking from that Joy Division fountain more than any other song on this album.
If you successfully survive the suffocation of Luna and Baby without drowning, Observe The Skies provides a little bit of respite from the wistful ennui, before the album reaches Cleaning Out The Rooms – pretty much the epitome of everything wrong with Valhalla Dancehall: long, drony, hookless boredom with a few whispered aaaaaahhhaha ahhhahahhahaas thrown in case you hadn’t fallen asleep by the end of its seven minutes.
Out of nowhere, Thin Black Sail seems to have stowed away from some other album and found itself in the crew of Valhalla Dancehall. Completely out of place but a welcome break from the tedium, Thin Black Sail is a bluesy, gothic punk song which could easily have been found on the floor of a recording studio used by fellow Brighton-based indie-rockers Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster.
Valhalla Dancehall is a difficult listen with few stand outs to make it worth revisiting too many times. Let’s just hope that once-seemingly ironic first album title doesn’t turn out to be some kind of prophetic albatross, eh readers?
DoesItRock Overall Score: 6.5/10
Listen to British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall now on Spotify!