CD Review – British Sea Power: Valhalla Dancehall
After refining fist-pumping to an artform, British Sea Power want you to remember why you’re pumping that fist in the first place. It would be trite to call Valhalla Dancehall a return to form, but it does blend the atmospheric fog of their first two records with the fog-machine theatrics of 2008’s Mercury Prize-nominated Do You Like Rock Music? And where that record’s title signposted what it sounded like, Valhalla Dancehall does something of the same – here, British Sea Power infuse their larger-than-life rock music with lyrics about going out, getting drunk, and dancing, over tracks that have beats cribbed from disco and the eighties new-wave and post-punk bands to whom they owe a debt. The overall impression isn’t an exuberant one, however; the songs often seem overexerted, pushed to the brink. Numbers like “We Are Sound” have a desperate energy, and the drinking is often nihilistic and obliterating rather than celebratory. But the songs have that energy nevertheless, and that’s what makes Valhalla Dancehall so exciting. You have the urge to celebrate, even as other songs – like darkly pulsing lead single “Living is So Easy” – have the world collapsing around you.