British Sea Power are a canny band, who are able to enthrall lovers of air-punching choruses but enigmatic enough not to put off those who favour a more esoteric brand of music. ‘Valhalla Dancehall’ is a logical step after their most commercial offering (2008’s ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’) and their instrumental ‘Man Of Aran’ soundtrack.
The album begins with ‘Who’s In Control?’. It is one of BSP’s most aggressive outings with Yan’s almost thuggish vocal (even if he does sing about libraries) competing with the kind of loud moments you’d normally expect to hear from a post-rock giant. Likewise ‘Luna’ and ‘Living Is So Easy’ are obvious choices for singles just as ‘Waving Flags’ and ‘No Lucifer’ were on their last record.
However, beneath the anthems, the group have always valued an undercurrent of mystery. They take time to indulge their Krautrock passions and – whilst ‘Stunde Null’ speaks for itself – ‘Mongk II’ rides on a brilliantly compelling groove which never lets up. At the album’s mid-point is ‘Baby’ which offers a hushed moment of calm amongst the noise. ‘Cleaning Out The Rooms’ is quite beautifully performed by band and partcularly their alternative frontman Hamilton. He triumphs again on the penultimate track; the epic yet elegant ‘Once More Now’.
Above all, British Sea Power represent the acceptable face of popular British indie music. Five albums in, they have retained the ability to thrill and energise without losing their identity.
Echo And The Bunnymen, Hope Of The States