We remember the first time we saw British Sea Power play on the eve of the release of their first album, “The Decline of British Sea Power,” in a small venue in Brooklyn where the band had decorated the stage with a tree and a giant stuffed bird. The band seemed to be from another world as the vocalist, Yan, sang of writers long dead and the mysteries of nature while his brother Hamilton played bass and marched around with a blanket cape as if he was a five year old allowed outside to explore the outside world for the first time. We got the feeling that these were home schooled kids too smart for their own good and slightly out of touch with the rest of the world. The eccentricity was tangible, heartfelt, and not the least bit contrived. The critics loved them, but the masses never quite got it. With the release of their second album, “Open Season,” the band will have another chance.
Imagine an explorer in the days of Columbus who has just returned back from his voyages to the unknown, singing of his profound amazement of the new world to a dumbstruck crowd and you will get the sense of the overall mood of the new album. Yan’s voice soars in tender bewilderment of a God and nature unknown while the band backs him, sounding like a warmer, more patient and compassionate version of the sound pioneered by the likes of Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen. Layers of electric and acoustic guitars and lush strings help give wings to Yan’s words and transform his tales from delusions to true visions.
If you were to find yourself shipwrecked in the middle of the night and washed ashore on some godforsaken island, convinced that death was imminent only to wake up with the sun shining gloriously over the horizon, your mind would probably be playing this album. And although we miss the frenetic energy of older songs like “Apologies to Insect Life” that could have given this album a dance floor hit, we will be more than happy to put on our headphones and listen to “Open Season” as Spring welcomes New Yorkers back outdoors and under the magic of endless blue skies.
British Sea Power plays Bowery Ballroom May 14th and 15th. Tickets still available here. Their latest album, Open Season, came out yesterday.