Monday, 16 March 2020

British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?


Artist: British Sea Power
Title: Do You Like Rock Music
Label: Rough Trade
Year: 2008

Do You Like Rock Music? landed over three years after British Sea Power’s previous record - the elegiac Open Season - which to me as a teenager was a lifetime! Being as obsessive a music fan as only a teenager can be, and being inordinately excited for this record, so much felt like it rode on DYLRM? on being great. As such I don’t think I’ve spent as much intense time with a record as I did with this album, playing it over and over again as the soundtrack to the writing of my University dissertation.

I’m not going to argue that this is the best album that British Sea Power ever released, but I do think it’s the one that captures their essence most succinctly. On release it caught a little flak for being ‘big music’, but revisiting it at over a decade’s remove it’s clear that this doesn’t sound anything like U2, and never strays into bombast. Like most of my favourite films, it packs in enough to make you want more, hinting at what’s just offscreen. Like all BSP records, it encourages a deep dive.

Our first taste of Do You Like Rock Music? was with ‘Atom’ on the 2017 EP Krankenhaus?, but it was with lead single ‘Waving Flags’ that British Sea Power crafted one of their most enduring anthems. Open-hearted and heavy drinking, a pean to immigrants and humanity. It’s a message that hits home even more in the darker times we’re now living through. Sadly the darker times weren’t the ones the band called for on ‘Lights Out For Darker Skies’ - a six and a half minute rally against light pollution that boasts the wonderful imagery “you dance like sparks from a muzzle”. And this from a band hitting their commercial peak.

Despite the tales of environmental breakdown (‘Canvey Island’) or references to the Nazi past of a certain Pope (‘No Lucifer’), Do You Like Rock Music? feels like an optimistic album. It says that whilst we may all still be in it, we’re together, we can share the burden and affect change. It’s sometimes hard to see that at the moment, but playing this record (nice and LOUD) never fails to give me goosebumps and despite the initial fanaticism with which I greeted it's arrival back in 2008 listening doesn’t feel like nostalgia. It feels like hope.

If you’ve not listened to this record before then; welcome in.