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British Sea Power: Valhalla Dancehall

How does the band follow up their previous album, a revamped score to the 1934 documentary The Man From Aran? By getting back to grandiose guitars and dense lyrics, a formula that made the band's 2003 debut The Decline of British Sea Power such an intriguingly different album. The band has now claimed, however sarcastically, Serge Gainsbourg and Ralf and Florian era Kraftwerk as influences for their latest album, adding another intriguing angle to an already pretty out-there band.

What the critics are saying:

Consequence of Sound: British Sea Power has reach-for-the-stars ambitions and their sweeping anthems sometimes grab a hold of greatness.Valhalla Dancehall is more of the same from British Sea Power, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the band has done most of it before in a more memorable fashion.

Contact Music: Valhalla Dancehall doesn't break any new ground for the group. Their claim that it sounds like 'a mixture of Serge Gainsbourg and Ralf and Florian era Kraftwerk with a sprinkle of Stock, Aitken and Waterman' is presumably tongue-in-cheek, because the album sounds nothing like any of those figures.

The Skinny: Yan's vocals are siphoned through a vocoder on standout track Mongk II, whilst the glitch-pop of Living Is So Easy is an impressive, successful departure. But too often (the shouty Who's In Control and M.O.R. Observe The Skies) BSP are content to play it simple, resulting in the first real disappointment of their careers.

BBC Music: It's the band's dense, oblique lyricism that's generally prevented their oft-anthemic guitar rock seeming regressive, but on tracks like Who's in Control?, Georgie Ray and Living is So Easy the band warp the music to match the words; stormy, elastic squalls of incandescent sound that lack the hooky polish of the band's early material, yet seethe and churn with greater force.

Valhalla Dancehall is out 1/11 via Rough Trade.

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Michael Lopez

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