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Artist: British Sea Power
Date Released: April 5, 2005
Label: Rough Trade
- It Ended on an Oily Stage
- Be Gone
- How Will I Ever Find My Way Home?
- Like a Honeycomb
- Please Stand Up
- North Hanging Rock
- To Get to Sleep
- Victorian Ice
- Oh Larson B
- The Land Beyond
- True Adventures
No one quite knew what to make of Brighton’s British Sea Power when they first started prancing on to stages around the UK in 2000. Armed with World War I uniforms and stuffed birds, their raucous live shows took on an added edge when it turned out the quartet were actually good at making music and not just complicating the visual aspect of their shows with forestry and other such rubbish. Thus, The Decline of British Sea Power, their 2003 debut, was one of those albums that garnered far more critical acclaim than popular support.
For their follow-up, the band claims Open Season is “a view of the world from great heights, a record that expresses more vivid clarity,” and that shows: The reputation they earned as high-octane post-punk oddballs has been politely shoved aside in favor of the more textural and epic approach first seen on Fear of Drowning and Lately. Yan’s voice has become more breathy and reflective, and perhaps a little more jaded. Carrion’s guitars are rarely let free. This is a carefully-approached work with breathing room and deliberate pacing that sucks the immediacy of The Decline completely out of Open Season and transforms it into something else entirely, an astounding work that reveals itself in its latter stages.
The ultimate assessment is that it’s still a tremendous album and the band is still an underappreciated, tremendous force in modern music, but North Hanging Rock sends out what may be the album’s self-fulfilling prophecy: “Drape yourself with greenery / Become part of the scenery.” One hopes that British Sea Power does not get passed over because it has succumbed to Brit-rock’s insurmountable stereotypes, but spotlighted instead for triumphing against them. - Patrick Masterson