19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2006
When this album was recorded the band said that they wanted it to sound like a painting by JWH Turner set to music. They achieved this. Like Turner they turned to subjects out of step with what the rest of their contemporaries deemed worthy and created something of utter beauty and striking originality. The album opens with a short burst of Gregorian chanting.
The album then ranges from the visceral roar of 'Apologies to Insect Life' (a song based upon Dostevsky's book 'Notes from the Underground) to the simple beauty of 'A Wooden Horse'. In between they produce a song set of subtlety, beauty and fantastic pop hooks with some of the most idiosyncratically wonderful lyrics of recent times. Highlights include the singles 'Remember Me' and 'Carrion', the wonderfully soulful 'Something Wicked' and the extraordinary touchstone that is 'Lately' a 14 minute epic whose gradual build and quiet/loud dynamic recalls many of the finer moments of post-rock, whilst taking in lyrical references to LP Hartley, prehistoric rocks and the Kattegut.
For anyone prepared to listen to an intelligent, powerful band who bring both subtlety and raw power to their music this is a must have album.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2003
Until the 8th June I'd never heard of British Sea Power. Thanks to a review in a national newspaper, that's changed. And it's a change for good. Liked the review. Bought the album. Listened to the album. Loved the album. After a couple of listens it's like putting on a comfortable sweater. You could keep it on all day. Thoroughly enjoyable with some really good tunes. There's a couple of tracks with too much thrashy guitar for my taste but the rest of this first album is excellent. I look forward to seeing them live too.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2006
I'm not a great reviewer of music, but having read some of the dissappointing reviews this album's received I decided that it's my duty to tell everyone how amazing this album is.
To a casual listener the album may not present much diversity musically, however this is not at all the case: each song is packed with its own mix of highs, lows, and lyrical and musical genious.
This album has an undertow of nostalgia that will make this as treasured as any 40 year old photo of your grandparents getting married, and so rich in diversity that it makes this album unignorable to any person who considers, or wants to be considered, someone of great musical taste. The observant listener will find hidden depths to each song, and to the album as a whole, each time it's played and thus rewards repeated listening - only to be broken by tea-breaks and the occassional toilet trip. This is truely inspired work from such a young band and must not be missed.
If you're pondering on whether to buy this album or not, don't hesitate to: this will be a companion throughout your life. Buy this album to experience something very special and very beautiful - on a whole different level to what you may already be used to.
I know my words aren't as magnificant as the other reviewers' are here, but I need to tell the world about how amazing this album is and I hope you don't make the mistake of not buying this - or worse still: buying this album and not giving it the lsitening it deserves.
Thankyou for reading.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2003
Ive owned this CD a few months now, and its hard to know where to start to being to tell you how highly I rate it. Its up there with OK computer as one of the greatest records ever, yet its nothing like it. The bands influences are worn on their sleaves without shame, yet theres a striking originality in what they are doing. Sure, they do sound like Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, and The Smiths at different points of the record, but then they sound nothing like you've ever heard before. The music is divine and the lyrics pure poetry (dont let that put u off, its so much better than arty rock stuff u may associate that word with)
The album starts with 'Men together today', 41 seconds of Gregorian monk chant... nice start just to kinda clear ur head of any misconceptions u may have had. Then suddenly the album explodes with 'Apologies to insect life' a punk track, changing time on a couple of occasions, and just knocking u sideways with roaring guitar and drums. Right, so they've got that out of their system, whats next, 'Favours in Beetroot Fields'. The best song title from anyone ever, and a song that lasts barely over 1 minute, another little burst of rocking guitar.
Then it all changes, and you've rocked out, feeling better, you get to calm down with some beautiful music starting with 'Something Wicked' with its roaming guitar and organ, and lyrics that u cant help smiling at like 'it starts with love for foliage, and ends in camoflage'.
Then comes one of the albums more instantly loveable songs, 'Remember Me'. Starts with an infectious riff and driving bass and creates a song that Joy Division would have wrote had they been from the Lake District, and gigged wearing World War 1 uniforms and stuffed birds. It has a distinct britishness that makes you embrace it instantly.
Next, 'Fear of Drowning'. one word, beautiful! Makes the hairs on your neck stand on end, although you wont notice until you've heard it a couple of times. Starting with swishing sea noises, it develops into a gentle swelling brilliant song about swimming from these island shores.
How do you follow such a song? Easy, you write one just as good, maybe better, give it a haunting piano riff, and echoing guitar, some brilliantly emotionally sometimes stupid lyric. What other band could sing 'I'll drink all day and play by night, upon my casio, electric piano' and 'I will return to haunt u with, peculiar piano riffs' and still make you believe them, and take the poetry of the lyrics seriously enough to love them? (which u will, by the way)
Next, 'Carrion', released as a single and many say the albums centre piece, though i cant pick one personally. This is an Echo and The Bunnymen / Joy Division type wonder, yet still is original. More beautiful poetry about Lapping of Ebbing tides (rhyming it with From Scapa flow to Rotherhithe, and formaldehyde). This is amazingly atmospheric, and also has the underunning britishness that you cant explain, only love. Blackout is sung by hamilton, the guitarist, who provides a whispy soft voice, which when backed by a tinkling of a piano, and providing some more poetry that makes you want to write songs, provides a brilliant song.
The next song is 14 minutes long, and strangely, in a way Yes never managed, every one of them is nessecary. In short this song is amazing, one of my favourites ever. More wonderous lyrics like 'Lately, you seem like another language' and 'You know how they say the past it is a foreign country, how can we go there'. Building into a brilliant crescendo of distorted vocals and noise. For the finale, 'A wooden horse'. Starts with morse code beeping, this song is so simple, and reminds you of why 'Nightswimming' by REM was so good on Automatic for the People. Its simplicity and emotion are outstanding. 'When wooden horses were in use I would have built one And left it for you'
The best band in Britain? maybe, definitly one of them. I hope this ridiculously long review makes u you buy the record, because trust me, its worth it. Also, if enough people buy it, maybe the bands profile will be raised, and they will provide us with more beautiful records.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2003
It was the same kind of feeling as it was listening to the first Smiths album and that electro-charged sensation knowing you are hearing something dangerously different.
They will be compared to various, and great, bands and on this evidence they show every sign of deserving it. The 13 minute epic "Lately" is an incredible mix of guitars that reminded me of "Marquee Moon". The production is entirely appropriate and, I guess, near to their live sound.
I notice on the sleeve that Dave Bascombe is involved with the band - another indication of quality.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The other evening I found myself watching a programe about Simon Cowell and suddenly I came to my senses and realised what I was doing. Why waste any time listening to what that soul-sapping goon has to say about anything I thought to myself, though not quite so politely, and so I removed the smug slug from my sight by switching the Gawp box off and rooted around my CD collection to listen to something that was the antithesis of the gutless fodder that hellspawn like Cowell and co peddle. I alighted on the British Sea Power album that I'd bought last year but hadn't really listened to properly. After several tracks had gone by all thoughts of the Cowell object had been dissipated because I realised I was listening to a bloody great album and started to interrogate myself as to why had I not spotted it before. By the end I was raving like a loon at the sheer splendidness of the whole bally thing.
Opening with a gregorian chant entitled 'Men Together Today', it zaps shortly into 'Apologies for Insect Life', a lapel-grabbing knees up that bounces like a whizzed up little f*cker that recalls the halcyon days of early Pixies. It's a cracking start, Gromit. But this and the following song bely the majority of what follows, though the fourth track 'Something Wicked' hints at the different mood awaiting in the second half of the CD, with its sinuous lilt and the muzzy organ flitting about like marsh mist in the background. A couple more crunchy guitar-based tracks follow and then we leave the harbour and start heading out towards the open sea. 'Fear of Drowning' slowly carries us out far from land as the sky grows dark, leading us into a droney evocation of heavy ocean swell. By the time we get to the next track, 'The Lonely', all trace of daylight has gone, just the promise of a long cold night; it is a melancholy yearning thing, a song that tickles that part of the brain which evokes nostalgia for something we may not even have lived through before, the feeling we get when we set out on a sea journey, say, even if it's only a booze cruise on the cross channel ferry to Calais.
And then comes 'Carrion', my personal favourite; bombastic maybe, but soaringly inspirationally bombastic. Carried on waves of heavenly choral-like keyboards, it makes me feel like I'm flying above a rolling turbulent sea at night, sometimes just clipping the tops of the wavecrests, sometimes arcing right up into the dark sky, but always aware of that murky, twisting ocean below. It's a wonderful, uplifting tune that I can't get out of my head.
It should be noted that the production is not what you'd call pin sharp. Instead the whole sound throughout is kind of murky, like a fog out of which strange muffled noises ebb and flow. This is wholly in keeping with the album's recurrent images of water, waves, seas. 'Carrion' is followed by the lovely bittersweet 'Blackout', another highlight for me. The next track is the 14 minute or so epic 'Lately' which could have been called Ocean, except the Velvets got in there first. This is only track that has the the quiet/loud thing going on mentioned by other reviewers. Not that it's a problem, it's called dynamics you igorant fooles. Starting off with lightly strummed acoustic guitar it swells and fades like the tide, like ocean waves, a mighty beast of a track. I ain't normally fond of that kind of thing, finding most such efforts (Sister Ray, Voodoo Chile, and so on) tiresome. But here I go with the flow and let it wash over me and it feels damn good. Final track 'A Wooden Horse' is both drained and jaunty, exhausted but exhilarated, a brief fleeting weary epiphany at the end of the journey just as the sun starts to rise.
Now reading this back, I see that I have got all pretentious and a little OTT but it's a been a good long time that an album has actually got under my skin in this way and made me really feel like I've been taken on a trip with it. Can't imagine Cowell or any of his little proteges being able to imagine let alone undertake a project that even attempts what BSP have done here because they only think of music as product for gawping prolebrains. Comparisons are odious some say, but they are useful to an extent, so what came to my mind while listening the first time was the aforementioned Pixies, Joy Division/very early New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Velvets, early Wah! Heat, a smidgeon of Inspiral Carpets, a hint of The Doors, all the usual suspects in other words. Though BSP are more than the sum of their 'influences', if these quoted acts are influences. Yes, they are unashamedly white boy indie, but not the generic shoe-gazing dodo type, because their horizons are bigger: sea-gazers or sky-gazers, perhaps. I look forward to their next voyage.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2003
I like an album to be a varied beast. Change in pace and style keeps the listener on their toes and in this album I think that the user will be tiptoeing around until the last chords of the final track.
Starting off with an atmospheric, almost classical track, any calm that may have settled is completely dispelled once the deep, bruising bass line of 'Apologies To Insect Life' hits in. The next couple of songs bite into each other with a frantic almost punky tempo. Then comes the variation, after getting the listeners attention, a set of tracks designed to epitomise the talent held within the band hits home. Strong melodic 'anthems' which touch upon Bowie, Smiths and for added zest Joy Division are the hi-light of this album. 'The Lonely' is an amazingly haunting track which takes the listener back to the great David Bowie days.
Catchy rhythms and strong lyrics take the listener home, which left me scrambling to press the play button again. For an album to so accessible on the first listen that you are humming along during the second listen shows a depth in quality - so rarely seen.
The music journals have lined up to heap praise on this album and for a change I tend to agree.
*** Like Bowie, Smiths, Joy Division ***
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2006
I decided to buy this album on the back of generally rave reviews and a couple of snippets of it which I had heard and enjoyed. At first I thought I'd made a mistake; the first three tracks are kind of crude and strident, and i was rather tempted to listen to something else. However, from track 4 onwards things pick up a lot, although I still have no idea what the songs are actually about.
A generally good album, though prehaps a bit samey, the standout tracks being 'Remember Me', 'The Lonely', 'Carrion' and 'Lately'.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As a mark of celebration of a decade of music from Kendal's finest (a November 2003 gig at Warwick University was my first 'live encounter' - with the 8-foot Ursine Ultra, of course!) I thought it appropriate to pen a few words on this stunning debut album. Of course, in the intervening period it has not all been sunshine and roses (as they say), with some ups and downs on BSP's subsequent 4 albums, but for me this debut remains as intoxicating as it did on first listen, marking it as my favourite album (period) of the last decade. Listening again, I still struggle to categorise this band (why bother I hear you ask?) and, although I still hear influences of some of my favourite music acts, from the likes of Bowie, Joy Division, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo, through their rawer moments to 'punky' sounds of The Clash and XTC, all overlaid with a sense of Stanshall-like, foliage-bedecked whimsy and frequent literary allusions, their uniqueness remains one of their most appealing facets.
Indeed, nowhere is this uniqueness better illustrated than on the album's openers, the Gregorian chant-like Men Together Today and the 'in your face' blast that is the hilarious `'Dostoevsky critical' Apologies To Insect Life. Crowd favourite, the 'punky' elegy to ageing of Remember Me is another 'pogo friendly' affair and features one of the band's most distinctive elements, a blistering Noble riff (a trait he has pleasingly repeated on many later songs, from Lights Out For Darker Skies through to Monsters Of Sunderland). Other favourites include the magnificent Fear Of Drowning, a lament 'for these shores', with its Steve Morris-like drum opening before Yan's whispered vocal and heavenly melody enters the fray, more Bowie-like then ever, and the maritime theme continues on the 'Noble riff-inspired' Carrion (or maybe Carry On) with its (apparent) Bergman-esque theme. This is by no means a one-man band, though, as Hamilton's exquisitely morbid Blackout amply demonstrates, though it is Yan who is back with a vengeance with album pièce de résistance, the 14-minute epic tale of WW2 military reflections in Lately (an extended song to rank with the best - Marquee Moon, Blue Line Swinger, Sister Ray, Stuck Inside Of Mobile, Cygnet Committee, etc - the latter having an uncannily similar opening to BSP's song), and the military theme continues into the sublimely melodic album closer, with its tale of Trojan subterfuge, A Wooden Horse.
A final few words on the album's concept, since this is very much a concept album with its focus on maritime matters. Irony is, of course, to the fore, both in terms of 'The Decline Of.... ` moniker and the preceding label describing the album as 'Classic'. Then, the band's naturalist credentials are in evidence via the cover's leaf, and the CD's raptor, silhouettes. But, perhaps the most fitting summary for album (and band) is their adapted literary (Thornton Wilder) quote, 'We ourselves may be loved only for a brief time ... Even so, that will suffice ... There is a land for the living and a land for the dead...'
Long live BSP.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2003
British Sea Power are being hailed as the ‘next big thing’. Over the last year, British Sea Power have toured with The Flaming Lips, Interpol and Pulp. They have played in concert at The Eden Project, London Forum and Thetford Forest!! They even sell their own-brand chocolate bars at gigs for two pounds each.
After a few singles they are about to release their debut album ‘The Decline of British Sea Power’. This has already been hailed by Kerrang and Rolling Stone as on of the finest debut albums of recent times.
Their sound is hard to categorise, but whilst listening to the album influences seem to range from Bowie, Stone Roses, James and Pulp.
After a couple of plays it really does become apparent you have stumbled across something special. It initially starts off very ‘wall of guitars’ before settling down to more melodic, guitar driven songs that are often classics in their own right. The first single to be released this year – Carrion – is an upbeat track with an extremely catchy chorus that becomes etched on your mind. Something Wicked stands out in a similar vein as a beautiful track, this time accompanied by organs probably last heard played by The Inspiral Carpets!!
However the stand out track on the album which virtually stopped me in my tracks is ‘Lately’. Apparently a live classic by BSP; it usually ends their shows. It starts off gently with cymbals recreating the sound of the sea, it then gradually builds up into a crescendo of thrashed guitars, feedback and angst ridden lyrics. At around 6 minutes into the track I though what a classic, however what I didn’t realise was there was another 8 minutes to go!! One minutes its coming down to a gentle finish, then just as you think it’s all about to end another full-on guiters and all onslaught returns again. Coming in at 13:58 this is an epic track that sits along with The Stone Roses ‘I am the Resurrection’ as an absolute classic. The really surprising thing is this isn’t the final track on the album. This really bemused me as it would really close the album off beautifully, and it is bloody hard to follow!!
Overall there is not one duff track on this album – believe me you won’t be disappointed when you buy this album, it is set to be a classic.