British Sea Power have always made me think of beige cable-knit cardigans. I’ve never been particularly tempted to sample their wares, despite the almost universal acclaim.
Even good reviews for fifth album Valhalla Dancefloor were not enough. The fear of turgid and pretentious indie rock was strong. Thankfully, the latest I Prefer Their Old Stuff podcast set me straight.
It features album opener Who’s In Control – a song as infectious as swine flu and twice as dangerous. I constantly find myself singing the chorus – out loud, on the streets of London. I know.
I love the drumming, it really controls the ebb and flow of the song and gives it such urgency. The hooky and melodic guitar is not the star here but works perfectly in context.
Echoey, distorted samples of a male scream that sound like a strangled sea-gull knock the track engagingly off kilter.
But it’s the masterful vocal performance that steals the show. Yan veers from gentle and mannered to anxious and desperate with brief moments of near-frenzy.
Lyrical gems include: “I’m a big fan of the local library but that’s another story” and “sometimes I wish protesting was sexy on a Saturday night”.
The rest of the album is taking longer to sink in but its opener is worth the admission price alone.