Review: British Sea Power’s ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’
Hey kiddos, its me, Fiskum. Since this is Playgirl, and since I’m not the naked centerfold for this month, this must be another record review. I thought I’d spout off a bit about the new CD from British Sea Power—Do You Like Rock Music? In the process, I listened to their 2005 release Open Season, and I thought I’d mention that as well.
I’ve never seen British Sea Power perform live, but the word is that they are a really exuberant live act—kind of lean and raw. To a certain extent, this energy comes across on their recordings. Their first release, The Decline of British Sea Power, has an element of punk rawness about it. But that seems diminished quite a bit in their subsequent releases. Open Season has its “punkish” moments (“How Will I Find My Way Home?”), but it generally seems to be crafted to appeal to a broader audience. I have no problem with this. People need to eat and it helps if you can sell a few CDs. But it is what it is.
Which brings us to Do You Like Rock Music? The format is basically raspy male lead vox over a stadium guitar rock band, with keyboards thrown into the mix. What makes this recording musically interesting is fact that the guitar players are really good. They understand melodies, and they understand how hooks work. The band uses longer, melodic hooks that stand on their own as sonic points of interest. There is/was a band from Scotland popular in the early 80’s called Big Country. Think of the guitar intro on their hit In a Big Country. and you have an idea of how British Sea Power’s hooks work. In my view, the British Sea Power approach is similar, but maybe more evolved. The Big Country hook might have been an accident, but British Sea Power uses melodic guitar hooks so much and so well that it appears to be a well thought out aspect of the compositional process, not just something an engineer suggested.
British Sea Power is a UK band (surprise) from Brighton. Yan Wilkinson sings and plays guitar, his brother Neil plays bass and sings, Martin Noble plays guitar, and Matthew Wood plays drums. There is certainly a nouveau-energetic element to Wood’s drumming, maybe not quite as flailing and straight ahead as you might hear on a recording by the Soviettes, for example, but certainly energetic.
Everyone who writes reviews has her biases and preferences. Since I’m a songwriter, I like modern, melodic rock played by skilled guitar players creating interesting hooks. British Sea Power has all of this and more. They have been favorably compared to Bowie and to Joy Division. At this point in their career it hard to say whether the Bowie comparison will hold up, but Do You Like Rock and Roll? and Open Season are great. You should listen.
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