Tuesday, 31 January 2012

EP Review: British Sea Power – BSP EP1

Released: 19th March
Label: Golden Chariot
Get It: British Sea Power Shop

First of six rough cut releases that show the core charm of one of the best bands on the planet.

With several previous EP releases under their belts, BSP EP1 may seem like something of a misleading title. It is however the first in a series of six releases in 2012 that will showcase the demos and workings of British Sea Power's fifth studio album. As the last couple of full-lengths from the band have taken three years each the presence of new material so close to the terrific Valhalla Dancehall is cause for excitement.

With lesser bands such a release may be not only offcuts from the previous record that simply weren’t good enough. This EP sees BSP moving forward, albiet steadily. Those that picked up the Valhalla Dancehall demos release will know broadly what to expect. Rough cuts with the core charm of the band but without the finesse that gives their albums their complete magic.

To this end 'French Pornographic Novel' and 'Baby Grey are rather good. The former retains British Sea Power's regal grace, with the vocal and keyboard playing out over found sound in the intro. Joined at the mid-way point by the drums a fuller sound ensues as the collage below expands to include additional instrumentation. This more avant garde feel ensures it's closer to the Man Of Aran soundtrack than any of their full releases. 'Baby Grey' meanwhile is Hamilton's moment and the cousin to 'Mongk II' and 'No Lucifer'. The drum machines are set to motorik and although lighter and of a more measured pace there still feels like some post-punk intent.

The two more refined moments on the EP however perhaps showcase the way forward more. The drums on the intro to 'Lullaby For What You Are' sound like 'Living Is So Easy', before settling into a 'Cleaning Out The Rooms' space. With the delicate but expansive guitar work you can imagine this being what The Maccabees were aiming for with the first half of Given To The Wild. Yan's vocal is at the centre, his croon closer to a less pervy Jarvis Cocker than the howls of BSP's early records. Although currently the ending peters out somewhat, you can imagine this closing a record when the finale is figured out.

The second of these fuller sounding songs is 'A Light Above Descending', the track which was briefly streaming on soundcloud to promote the release. With the huge sonic vista of Open Season and the edge of The Decline Of... it's easy to see how it has been taken into fans hearts already. A hard act to follow, EP closer 'Fiery' is a bit hazy and indistinct. Acoustic lead it's forgettable next to 'A Light Above..' and in need of a bit of kick.

This aside however BSP EP1 is a wise investment and essential listening for anyone already eager for another British Sea Power album.

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1 comment:

Ghostie said...

I'm kind of taken by Lullaby For What You Are after repeated listens to EP1, moreso than A Light Above Descending - the other stand out track. It's very dark and claustrophobic, amongst Yan's vocals, the wailing noises and echoey sounds in the background culminating in the chanting. That's the thing about British Sea Power since I recently started listening to them proper and I can see why they have developed such a loyal fan base over the years - they will always surprise you with tracks of sheer class even on an ep containing just five demo songs. They are doing more eps I believe. Hope they stand up as well. Good stuff.