British Sea Power | Valhalla Dancehall

Rough Trade (2011)
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  January 8, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

 010711_OTRseapow_main

It sounds as if British Sea Power were determined to shrug off those turn-of-the-millennia comparisons to Joy Division by making things harder, faster, stronger. But is it better? Questionably varied is more like it. Whereas 2008’s Do You Like Rock Music? veered toward the straight-ahead and radio ready, Valhalla Dancehall jumps around. Lean and nimble on the opening “Who’s in Control,” quirky and poppy on first single “Living Is So Easy,” and then grandiose on the sweeping 11-minute epic “Once More Now,” the album isn’t easy to stay with. Yet despite the sonic shifts, the Brighton (UK) band’s fourth proper record avoids sounding capricious. The constants are there; the group come off as authentic in their earnestness, even with lyrics (“I love your celebrity/the VPL in the SUV”) that might look slipshod on paper. But no new ground is being broken. Are the Sea Power post-punk or a rock band? It’s okay to try to be both, but not when you get caught in a rut where the wheels spin without taking you anywhere.

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