British Sea Power ‘Zeus’ – Review

4 Oct

I’m not shy in expressing my love for British Sea Power, I’d go as far to say they are the single most overlooked band of the last decade. They haven’t been entirely overlooked, they have always received great reviews and their last album went top ten, but they truly made three of the best indie albums of the 00’s and I don’t think they got enough recognition for that.

If I have one criticism it’s that they take far too long between albums, their fourth record wont be out until January, but for now we have ‘Zeus’, a seven track e.p. The opening song  here suggests that the next album will be simular to the epic and anthemic ‘Do You Like Rock Music’ only bigger, louder and more intense. This song is seven minutes and as it progresses it gets crazier and more ferocious. The next song ‘Cleaning Out The Rooms’ is also over seven minutes long but that shouldn’t put you off, after all this is the band that made ‘Lately’ a song that went on for 13 minutes but didn’t waste a single second. ‘Cleaning… is the only song from here that will appear on their next album proper and although it’s darker and more experimental than much of their older material it isn’t a giant departure for the group.

British Sea Power’s key charm has always been their lyrics which are romantic, nostalgic and rich in detail. In the past they have focused on very English and often historical subjects but ‘Do You Like Rock Music’ saw them extending their observations to both the wider world and more personal emotions. The e.p continues in these directions, thus there are no songs about tea, Canvey Island, World Ward Two or the smallest church in Sussex but overall things are still pretty unusual. It’s harder to decipher the lyrics on ‘Zeus’ as often the vocals have been messed with – ‘kW-h’ features bizarre use of autotune and ‘Can We Do It’ is drenched in swirling reverb. On the other songs the vocals are buried rather deep in the mix which makes these songs sound raw and very live but it does rather distract from the lyrics. ‘Bear’ is the exception – it’s not just the best thing on here but also one of the best things they have ever done. The band use their brilliant eye for detail to paint a picture of a declining love. ‘I saw you reading the daily star/ I saw you watching the X Factor/ when did you fall so far?’ It’s a great song.

It’s not all that good though, we shouldn’t forget that these songs are essentially the ones that didn’t make it onto the fourth album so it’s to be expected that the quality is mixed. ‘Mongk’ is useless and good for nothing whilst ‘Pardon My Friends’ isn’t much better, although it does kind of melt over your ears. ‘Can We Do It’ is pretty energetic but not in the same way as their classic ‘Apologies to Insect Life’ – this just feels a bit like filler.

‘Zeus’ does it’s job more than adequately – it serves as a prelude to the band’s fourth album, suggesting the direction they will probably go in, whilst rounding up the songs the band must have thought didn’t fit on the new record. Of course it isn’t brilliant but it is a very interesting listen and you can consider me well and truly excited to hear where they go next.

7/10


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