An Ocean to Wade Through
British Sea Power’s new release, Let the Dancers Inherit the Party, is bookended by two tracks that are both ambient and lyrical, which respectively introduce and then reprise an aural landscape, including elements evocative of drone instruments and even whale sounds. This transitions smoothly into the first full-length track, “Bad Bohemian,” a feel-good few minutes suggesting some fusion between Morrissey and Coldplay. The opening tracks on the album generally hold on to this mood, up through “The Voice of Ivy Lee” with its sparkling synths and slightly more gravelly vocal quality. This first “movement” includes “International Space Station,” a favorite with expansive instrumentals and synths hinting at something intergalactic, something existing “between the moon and the stars.”
From this point, the album seems to take a turn in another direction, for better or for worse. “Keep On Trying” features a sort of chanting of an ostensibly German phrase roughly translating to “six friends,” possibly referring to the six members of this indie post-rock group. This track also signals the start of a pacing slowdown for the album as a whole. That is not to say that the tempos become less driving or the overall sound even less upbeat, but that some tracks seem to go on a smidgen longer than perhaps they should. Perhaps this is an aesthetic choice meant to draw out the listener’s experience, but it tends to make some tracks fade into the background and beg a transition.
There’s a certain edge to the slightly ironically named “Electrical Kittens” that brings British Sea Power back closer to the realm of alternative rock or punk revival. It seems to be stricken with a similar issue of pacing as a few of the tracks in this stretch are, however. “Saint Jerome” at first would have you believe it was trying to up the energy after the previous track, but this feeling disintegrates quickly and almost certainly by design. The reference to a saint seems to follow a trend of vague quasi-Biblical references on the album, from the title, which appears to be some permutation of “let the meek inherit the Earth” to a reference to “beasts of the field,” in “Keep on Trying.” This is most definitely not a new phenomenon in alternative music; one might be reminded of Florence and the Machine’s “Saint Jude.” Overall, the album has some standout tracks and some moments of good mood, and despite its pacing dilemma, remains worth a listen.