British Sea Power - Salty Water

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The Decline Of British Sea Power

The British Navy may not be what it was in its glory days, but more important to the music fan, British Rock Power has also suffered a severe decline since the glory days of Madchester-styled Britpop. The country that one produced the likes of The Smiths, Joy Division and The Cure, now can only muster the alternative anthems of cold-blooded iconoclasts like Radiohead or Coldplay. Forget high-minded dirges to mind-fuck the intelligentsia: What happened to the glory days of British depression and angst? Are they, like the Admirals of old, relegated to fond memories and clumsy Hollywood versions like 24 Hour Party People and Master Commander?

British Sea Power brings back the glory days of British rock with a moody, guitar-propelled sound that takes the better part of The Smiths, Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen and makes it its own. While the act doesn't dabble around with the overt gloom of its present-day compatriots - the powerful, reverbed-up guitars alone could send Interpol fleeing back to its Joy Division fakebook - a nagging sense of overcast guilt lurks around The Decline of British Sea Power and brings the style/substance combo punch back into the limelight.

A pair of buzzing guitars shines a bit of light across a dismal, single-minded bass line that's one part Joy Division and one part post-millennial rock revival in "Apologies to Insect Life," although its guitars make a nod toward much more energetic rock. "Carrion," follows the same format, with a track that sounds like a Joy Division that's been drinking protein shakes and hitting the weights every day before work. "Something Wicked" lets off on the throttle with Jonathan Fire Eater-esque rhythms and sparse guitar work, and "Fear of Drowning" confirms the act's able to keep the creeped-out atmosphere rolling even when it backs off the loud guitars.

If there's a band out there that can combine British Sea Power's flair for style - this record simply drips with a cooler-than-you atmosphere - with its flair for powerful songwriting, the record labels don't know about it. A top-notch debut if ever there was one.

Author: Matt Schild
Source: Aversion
Date: 2nd June 2003

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