Album Review: British Sea Power – Let the Dancers Inherit the Party

By on Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 12:00 pm

British Sea Power Let the Dancers Inherit the PartyCerebral rock has a limited audience. Yet for over 2 decades, British Sea Power have managed to capture the imagination of a devoted fanbase. So devoted, that the recording for their newest album ‘Let the Dancers Inherit the Party’, incredibly their sixth, was funded entirely through their fans’ benevolence through pledges, preorders of a limited edition box set of the LP and even a £1,500 tattoo ensuring free entry to all future shows by the band. If that’s not devotion, I don’t know what is. What’s an even better surprise is that ‘Let the Dancers…’ sees the indie group from Brighton unveil their most accessible set of songs since ‘Do You Like Rock Music’, nearly a decade old.

Early single and album standout ‘Bad Bohemian’, unveiled at the start of the year, leads this charge. Despite the energetic tempo, the song is grounded in mood by singer Yan Wilkinson’s soothing, avuncular voice. The result is a feel good, anthemic tune as Wilkinson croons, “the future stretches out there between us / and we decide if we want it to be cold”. That is, it’s up to us to decide what will happen going forward, a feeling echoed by guitarist Martin Noble on the direction of the new LP: “…Perhaps a little clarity isn’t a bad thing at this point. There wasn’t a plan to create an album with any particular subject matter but we’ve kind of ended up with a case of ’think global, act local’ – an album where individuals are dealing with their domestic and personal lives against a background of uncontrollable international lunacy.” On the upbeat ‘The Voice of Ivy Lee’, the keyboards shine on another beautifully anthemic moment on the album. It’s a good reminder that this is a band that can run circles around most other bands who have an obligatory keyboard player thrown into the mix because that’s just what bands do these days.

On another single, ‘Keep on Trying (Sechs Freunde)’, the band show their affinity to continental Europe, invoking the German version of six degrees of separation in the song. The “six friends” of British Sea Power shine on this guitar-driven song, full of the shouty declarations of “sechs Freunde!” from Wilkinson, which you know will be echoed back to him at festivals this summer. Their collective might is strongest on ‘International Space Station’, beginning with a fanfare reminiscent of past hit ‘Waving Flags’, and that’s not a bad thing. “Can you feel the distance? Wilkinson asks on the insistent, percussive-heavy track. The beats are also heavy on next track ‘What You’re Doing’, which I’m pretty sure is a love song to the Earth. I base this on having to Google the word “massif”; I told you they were cerebral! The Springsteen-esque guitar hooks keep things from going too tree huggy and nicely so, though.


From the midpoint of the album on, things slow down and become less pop, more reflective and ultimately and unfortunately, less successful. ‘Want to Be Free’ is a loungey piano number that feels like a letdown after such a strong start. ‘Praise for Whatever’, which includes in its lyrics the title of the album, would be a dirge if it wasn’t for the bright synth notes. Still, it’s so plodding, it’s like that feeling of wanting to give a kid in a sled a push from behind. Up a hill. The second half is their prog moment, as they build up a cacophonous wall of sound. I can’t see them performing this in the middle of Worthy Farm without a few hipsters stroking their goatees, perturbed.

‘Let the Dancers…’ is British Sea Power’s first album since leaving Rough Trade Records, and it’s a positive thing there’s no real sense that they’ve made a mistake or have lost their way. However, the Brighton band seem not to have decided if they want to go whole hog into pop or whether they want to continue their existence in their special niche in the indie ecosystem.


British Sea Power’s sixth album ‘Let the Dancers Inherit the Party’ is out now on the band’s own Golden Chariot label as licensed to Caroline International. The group are currently in the middle of a UK tour that stops at Manchester Ritz tonight; they stop at London Shepherds Bush Empire tomorrow and Birmingham Academy 2 on Thursday.

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