British Sea Power likes rock music, does it well

Joe Shearer

Courtesy of Rough Trade Records

Credit: Ron Soltys

Imagine David Bowie fronting a hybrid band comprised of New Order and the Replacements, and you might come close to British Sea Power.

Taking the best elements of early new wave and ’80s indie rock, this modern, indie quartet never sounds dated or retro.

In fact, if you answer ‘yes’ to the question and the title of the band’s third album — Do You Like Rock Music?, there’s a strong case you should seek out this record. When it comes down to it the music transcends labels and simply falls under good rock-and-roll.

It’s a bold statement, it’s a bold name for an album, but it works.

The beginning one-two punch of “All in It” and “Lights Out for Darker Skies” is a nice introduction, the former working as the mood setter of the album and buildup to the latter, a beautifully crafted, six-and-a-half-minute epic. The rock portion of the song is something Paul Westerberg himself might envy, while the non-formulaic breakdown in the middle represents something missing in music today.

If you hear a head-bobber like “Waving Flags” off Rock Music, you’ll forget everything around you, journey to another land, and when you return, you’ll be hoping the next ship isn’t far behind.

Luckily, it’s not. There’s more to appreciate and take in, and the big, dressed-up sound on “Down On the Ground” and “A Trip Out” is something that will draw most listeners. The mix of booming production and at times dirty guitars is both soothing and highly energized.

However, there is another side to the disc. The grand rock songs give way to slower, atmospheric sounds, especially toward the end of the album. Though not always as engaging as the beefier portions, the final track, “We Close Our Eyes,” is essentially a reprise of “All in It” and brings the voyage full circle. Beginning slow and creepy with organs, echoey guitars and some distant screams, it finally brings the listener back to a familiar territory with the opening anthem.

For the third time in a row, British Sea Power delivers a powerful collection of rock-and-roll fantasy. The song structure now may be a bit more complex and less conventional, but the band sacrificed nothing in the process. Not every track will stay on your radar, however, the ones that do will remind you why you fell in love with rock music in the first place.

Contact all reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].