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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: British Sea Power


After three previous studio albums, British Sea Power still sounds like it is trying to achieve a combination of U2’s stadium sound, Bruce Springsteen’s working class appeal and The Clash’s rock sensibilities. Those are some lofty goals, and if you’re wondering whether or not all that trying can start to wear on a band, you’ve got confirmation with Valhalla Dancehall.

The group’s sweeping sound is still there, along with the grandiose backing choirs and instrumental buildups from its last three albums.

While it’s a pleasing formula, there’s nothing exciting or new about it, and it’s readily apparent that British Sea Power cannot exist outside this box. As a result, there is a noticeable lack of purpose to the album.

After all, could frontman Yan possibly be serious when, on opener “Who’s In Control,” he sings, “over here, over there, over here, every fucking where?”

The radio-friendly British pop of “Living Is so Easy” is ruined by a mind-numbing chorus of “Living is so easy, Shopping is so easy, / Dying is so easy, All of it is easy.” This kind of hokey songwriting is indicative of a band that’s just going through the motions.

The album begins to collapse under its own weight in the last half. “Luna” attempts the classic portrait of a troubled girl, but without enough charisma to make you care, and “Baby” is a vaporous, ethereal-sounding ballad with about as much substance.

The punkish rock of “Thin Black Sail” is a standout, but it’s buried between so much filler it can barely retain any interest.

While Valhalla Dancehall is a harmless, head-nodding rock album, it’s ultimately plain and less than memorable. British Sea Power can keep putting out as many albums as it likes, but if it doesn’t regain a sense of creativity and vitality, future efforts won’t hold our attention.

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