CD: British Sea Power: The Decline of British Sea Power

(Rough Trade)

A Brighton-based, Cumbrian-hued quartet who make windswept and drizzled art rock abundant with war imagery doesn't sound a bundle of laughs. Yet British Sea Power's slightly camp, wholly menacing, startlingly audacious debut is unlike anything you'll hear this year.

Looking beyond tried and tested beat group influences to the dark and dismal early 1980s sound of the Psychedelic Furs and Joy Division, their retro claustrophobia collides with very modern, utterly stinging confusion. From the ominous, operatic chorus of Men Together Today to the taut and messy 13-minute epic Lately, British Sea Power vault over complacency.

Singer Yan's breathless vocals - Marilyn Monroe meets Marilyn Manson - are swamped by a sea of screeching, nagging guitars on Apologies To Insect Life, his clever words and imagery reduced to a pained yelp by the speeding rhythm. Military drumrolls fight against soft keyboards, heavy guitars try to drown out snatches of electronica, and all the time the tension between lofty lyricism and posturing musical simplicity grows. British Sea Power will fight them on beaches - and they might just win.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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