Review: British Sea Power
TT the Bear’s Place
British Sea Power come from a small coastal town in England, where the winds mix with saltwater and woodland air to forge an atmosphere of gloom, wavering peace and faint, distant storming that only the dogs can feel. Apparently the world ends every day there, if their brooding, dissonant debut album Decline of British Sea Power is any reflection.
Inspired equally by the ocean, forest animals and Joy Division, the three-year-old band has risen quickly in profile. Since the release of their debut, they have enjoyed glowing, awestruck reviews from music publications on both sides of the Atlantic. They have also developed an infamous stage show that now features locally pruned foliage, a few toy birds and a stunning, seasick climax that—so far—stands as their greatest achievement.
They call themselves the greatest, most interesting new band in the world. Still, the warm, excited reception they have met throughout their ongoing U.S. tour has taken them by surprise.
“Last time we was supporting the Libertines in Washington,” says guitarist Noble. “We were second on the bill, and the record wasn’t even out yet. A lot of people turned up to see us, which was weird. They came, and when we stopped playing they all left. How had anyone even heard of us?”
“We didn’t have a smash hit single, or you know, a song to break us,” adds guitarist and lead singer Yan. “It’s been a real gradual buildup, and that’s basically been because we played live a lot. We’ve always thought we had a good thing live. It was just getting a lot of people to see it, and it grew.”
Indeed, their claims of worldwide supremacy, while exaggerated and overconfident, aren’t entirely unfounded. British Sea Power truly do offer something unique. Standing up at TT’s, playing their rain-soaked, brooding anthems with conviction and strength, they almost sound transcendent, channeling pop music’s potential for enlightenment and depth in ways that other bands do not even attempt.
More importantly, their bass player is taking a three month sabbatical from the band so he can train to, well, “become a sheepdog.”
As for their place in the current pop canon, British Sea Power couldn’t be more self-assured.
“There’s been a lot of dumbing down,” says Yan. “Bands don’t say anything really, or just go over the old cliches. Put on some leather jackets on, talk about how much they drink.”
British Sea Power, instead, sing about Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic voyage in the Spirit of St. Louis, parade around like a group of unkempt, outcast forest rangers and make a really big deal about their interest in birds.
“To me they’re friends,” says Yan of the band’s stage props. “I really am fond of the owl, and if I’m struggling, I’ll go over and just try and stare it in the eyes. It makes me feel like I’m in a David Lynch film.”
—The Crimson Staff