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Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Who's In Control?

Review of British Sea Power’s Valhalla Dancehall

Photo via FacebookFacebookHow do you like your British Sea Power? Abrasive and anarchic as on their debut The Decline Of British Sea Power? Slick and anthemic as on the follow-up Open Season? Or are you loathe to choose between the two and prefer the middle ground that album number three – Do You Like Rock Music? – treads upon?

If you raised your hand for option c), then the Brighton-based Brits’ fourth effort Valhalla Dancehall – out today – should be on your “to-buy” list because it confirms that BSP have established their own little musical kingdom between the aforementioned territorial extremes where their eccentricities and populist tendencies intermingle and coexist. And if you preferred either a) or b), then Dancehall still has much to offer because, let’s face it, they’re too inherently weird to ever be too conventional and their musical vision is too widescreen to ever allow them to go soft.

Though it treads familiar terrain, Dancehall still carves its own niche, distinct from its predecessors. While opener “Who’s In Control?” sets a frenzied tone, overall the titular qualities the defined Rock Music has been dialed down slightly with grandeur taking priority over bombast. There’s still plenty of the latter, make no mistake, but it’s delivered in a more polished manner with some of the white noise having resolved into more atmospheric qualities and they’re balanced with truly gentle moments such as “Baby” and plenty in between. If Valhalla‘s place in the BSP canon is to be summed up in one word, it’s “refinement” in that it takes all their by-now familiar touchstones and dresses them up in just the right amount of classy. To some that might sound like maturing and/or getting boring, but if it gives us more gems like album closer “Heavy Water”, with its subtle motorik pulse, then call it what you like – I’ll take it.

Clash has excerpted a portion of an interview with the band from their latest issue and The Fly also has a feature piece.

MP3: British Sea Power – “Who’s In Control?”
MP3: British Sea Power – “Living Is So Easy”
Video: British Sea Power – “Living Is So Easy”
Stream: British Sea Power / Valhalla Dancehall

The Line Of Best Fit and The Fly have feature pieces on Esben & The Witch, whose debut Violet Cries is out on February 8. I said after seeing them open for Foals back in September that I’d wait until I heard the album before passing judgement on whether they were worth paying attention to… and having heard it, I’m still paying attention.

The Quietus talks to PJ Harvey about her new record Let England Shake, due out February 15.

The first single from Noah & The Whale’s forthcoming Last Night On Earth has a video and the album itself has a proper release date – it will be out on March 8 and they’ll be at the Mod Club on March 24.

Video: Noah & The Whale – “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”

NME reports that Glasvegas have given their second album the title of Euphoric Heartbreak; sorry Glasvegas dudes, but I will not indulge you with including the “///” or “\\\” when writing the title because it is, how you say, bullshit. Only M.I.A. got away with that because she’s batshit. The first single from said record will be made available this weekend and the record is due out sometime in the Spring.

The Fly checks in with Patrick Wolf, who’s in the studio working on his next album – it’s still untitled but will be out in May. twentyfourbit has some live video of Wolf previewing new material at a recent London show.

Synth-pop pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark are back, both with a new album in History Of Modern (released last year) and their first North American tour in over two decades – it will kick off on March 5 at The Phoenix in Toronto, tickets $28.50. Between you and me and the internet, I played their best-of In The Dark a fair bit in high school. No I wasn’t cool. Is that just becoming clear now?

Video: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – “If You Leave”

The Radio Dept. talks to Spinner about some of the more political angles of their work. Their compilation album Passive Aggressive is out January 25 and they’re at Lee’s Palace on February 7.

Spin is streaming the new single from Lykke Li; her new record Wounded Rhymes will be out on March 1 and she plays The Phoenix on May 22.

Pitchfork has details on Peter Bjorn & John’s new record Gimme Some, due out March 29. Spin talks to Peter Moren about the record.

Jens Lekman has taken to his blog to announce that 2011 will, if the stars align, see him release a new album. And an EP. If the stars align.

By : Frank Yang at 8:28 am
Category: General

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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  2. Bruce says:

    Thanks for the Valhalla review, very excited for this! From your account, others I’ve been hearing, and on the strength of the Zeus EP (which I thought was pretty awesome!), I can’t wait. (Yeah, as of today, I guess I don’t have to.) And pretty much any flavour of BSP works for me (Man of Arran, anyone?). I listened to their first again yesterday, and it gels with the whole catalogue surprisingly well.

    By the way, have no fear, OMD were definitely cool. Loved them, at least the first 3-4 albums anyway, and their classics are undeniable.

  3. the needle drop says:

    Who’s In Control? is one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard in a while, and I’m glad you’re digging it. i’d be honored if you’d check out my review of the new bsp album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzKcgB0n5XE

  4. david says:

    Always surprises me that you like BSP seeing as how your taste seems to lean towards milque-toast landfill indie.

  5. Frank Yang says:

    “milquetoast” is one word, no hyphen