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Valhalla Dancehall CD
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1. who's in control3:14 2. we are sound4:47 3. georgie ray3:47 5. mongk ii4:48listen 6. luna4:17listen 7. baby5:46listen 8. living is so easy4:01 9. observe the skies3:2310. cleaning out the rooms7:1111. thin black sail1:4612. once more now11:1313. heavy water
While British indie music remains at the mercy of boom and bust hype cycles and the vagaries of fashion – just how dated do The Libertines sound now? What happened to Klaxons’ second album? – it’s quite possible that the greatest achievement of Brighton’s British Sea Power is to have something approximating a stable, modest, ‘normal’ career. Viewed fondly by the music press but never hyped to the heavens, making accessible music but clearly unburdened by the desire to write a hit, eccentric but never preposterous, BSP’s three previous albums proper have each scored strong reviews and incrementally higher chart positions and fourth set Valhalla Dancehall seems profoundly unlikely to buck that trend.
Mixing the sort of luminescently sinister ballads that have stood the band in good stead throughout their career with chaotic, colourful smears of guitar rock that break with the sepia tones of 2008’s Do You Like Rock Music?, this is an album that neither treads water nor reinvents the wheel. Instead, it sees BSP continue their stately, unruffled progress.
It’s the band’s dense, oblique lyricism that’s generally prevented their oft-anthemic guitar rock seeming regressive, but on tracks like Who’s in Control?, Georgie Ray and Living is So Easy the band warp the music to match the words; stormy, elastic squalls of incandescent sound that lack the hooky polish of the band’s early material, yet seethe and churn with greater force. "Sometimes I wish protesting was sexy on a Saturday night!" roars vocalist Hamilton on Who’s in Control? before pummelling drums and screeds of feedback obliterate the song’s vestigial structure; there’s something of the roiling disorder we’ve seen on the UK’s streets of late to the track, music to bother royalty to.
It’s thrilling stuff, so it’s a shame Valhalla Dancefloor has a flat-ish final third: Heavy Water is a moving closer, but the preceding Once More Now is a pretty staid 10 minutes – if the band wanted an epic finale, they’d have been much better served including the gorgeous Bear from their recent Zeus EP. Still, that record isn’t totally neglected: the stifling Mongk II (a reworking of the EP’s Mongk) is a foreboding tour de force, buzzing with dread, the band’s most powerful song to date.
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Top Customer Reviews
'Do You Like Rock Music?' (We did and we still do!); 2009
delivered an interesting reflective diversion in the form
of the CD/DVD project 'Man Of Arran'. So very early into the
New Year and they return with a stunning new album which
bursts out of the speakers with the kind of joyous confidence
which deserves to steer them well into the mainstream of the
listening world. 'Valhalla Dancehall' really is made of terrific
stuff! Big emotional music which cannily avoids ever being brash
or pompous despite the often epic proportions of its sonic visions.
There are thirteen tracks in the collection; dense, highly-structured
arrangements which manage to feel fresh and spontaneous without
ever sounding over-worked. On the contrary there is a raw edge just
below the surface of a good number of these compositions which
really does make the hair stand up on the back of our necks!
Just listen to the ravishing guitar interventions at the heart of
the wonderful number 'Georgie Ray' for evidence of how far this
cracking band have come. Stuff to truly stir the mind and spirit!
The quality of musical invention and imagination barely lapses
for a moment. With songs of the calibre of 'Luna', a droll
mid-paced little wonder which brims over with moonlight and
palpable emotion; 'Observe The Skies', a raucous, hard-riding,
fast-driving piece of perfectly conceived uplifting rock; the
spectacularly wide inner-horizons of 'Cleaning Out Rooms' (a
daringly sustained long breath of a song which is so good it
almost hurts!Read more ›
Certainly "Valhalla Dancehall" is a nice blend of anthems which deserve a rather large stadium to be fully appreciated combined with pop songs like "Georgie Ray" which owe some debt to David Bowie and actually nod a wink to Coldplay. It all starts splendidly with the huge rocker "Whose in control" which deserves a massive sprawling crowd in a gigantic summer festival to chant along to its infectious chorus, huge riffs and overpowering guitar work. It will literally knock the plastic pineapple off the top of the television and bring crashing down the ducks off the wall; it deserves to be a huge hit and will grow to be loved by discerning rock fans. Another song falling into this category is the brilliant pop orientated "Observe the skies" which will click the "repeat" button in your brain and have you singing it on loop within your head.Read more ›
Not that the reviews have been bad, far from it, but most have said that Valhalla is basically another British Sea Power album with a few tweaks and enhancements.
For me, nothing could be further from the truth.
The band have clearly spent an awful lot of time on this album, and to be frank, although there are moments when it's unmistakeably them, these are in the minority.
Some parts put me in mind of Arcade Fire, others Blur and Kasabian.
Whereas Do You Like Rock Music was a fine album, it didn't excite me, it never drew me in so that I HAD to play it again and again. To be honest, the only way i can put it is that I found it a little two-dimensional.
VD, on the other hand, has so much more depth and variation of sound; the guitar heavy tracks interspersed with more keyboard-centred and bass heavy songs; vocals are much improved, and with more variety of tone.
In short, this is a much more grown-up album whilst still retaining bags of charm and most importantly, FUN !!
I've had a passion for music of many kinds for 40 years now, and for me, this is one of the finest albums I;ve heard in the last 5 years.
Yes, the cover may look a bit chap and nasty; the contents are far from it. Approaching genius. Buy !!
Best moments on the album for me are live favourite "Who's in Control?" , "Mongk II" (Although arguably Mongk on Zeus EP is a better mix), "Georgie Ray" and "Thin Black Sail" (palette cleanser that it is!)The variety in those four tracks alone would be enough to sustain many bands for many moons, quite frankly!
Looking forward to the Thekla and my sixth trip to see the best live band in the UK.
"If you want it, you can have it...it's not really complicated"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really don't like this CD at all. I made a mistake in purchasing it. One for the charity bag!Published on 10 Jan. 2014 by R J Bower
Having only seen BSP on TV and was very impressed. Been thinking about getting a CD to judge if their music was as good as their TV slots. Read morePublished on 9 April 2013 by Will Stewart
One of the most interesting alternative bands around. I say alternative because they are still something of a cult here rather than a household name but even though that following... Read morePublished on 15 Jan. 2012 by Sammac
Do You Like Rock Music is probably my favourite album of the last few years, so this one was going to have to be something special to get anywhere near that standard. It doesn't. Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2011 by Duncan
I first heard of BSP in 2003 whilst on the trail of Bowie's European tour in France. I heard some odds and ends travelling in a car from Marseille to Lyon for the next Bowie show... Read morePublished on 11 Aug. 2011 by David Bentley Newman
I am a massive BSP fan and always have one of their 1st three albums in the car or on the mp3. I could hardly wait to listen to Valhalla Dancehall, but must say I am as... Read morePublished on 27 Jun. 2011 by Jim
I bought the first album, saw them live and thought they were ok. Sadly, i sense no progress, often thinking that songs have just been re-hashed from earlier efforts. Read morePublished on 9 Mar. 2011 by Mr. Nhj Barnes
Another great album from British Sea Power. Slightly different from previous but not straying too far to alienate long term fans. Read morePublished on 6 Mar. 2011 by by_tor