British Sea Power

Machineries of Joy

Written by: HES on 02/12/2013 19:21:38

I have just recently been stuck in a rut with way too many brit-rock(or post brit-rock if you will) bands at one time. I was so sick of the inherent sad, monotone depression many of these bands apparently cultivate in their black and white gardens - not only in the UK, but spreading worldwide. With no former reference, I honestly expected nothing of British Sea Power other than something generic, but slowly yet steadily fell a bit in love with this band that seems way more eclectic on the outside than they really are.

The musical universe of "Machineries of Joy" is easily described through the first track of the album with the same name. The sound is grandiose, but not in a symphonic way - rather a post-punk way. I get the reference that, if The Cure decided to suddenly venture into modern indie rock - this would probably sound a lot like this. Refrains, sentences and guitar motifs are repeated in a dreamy fashion, almost spacey. The spaceyness is less subtle in songs like "A Light Above Descending" which manages to feel relevant but mainly in a musical genre that is - at least in my opinion - slowly descending into its own irrelevance.

"Monsters of Sunderland" I think is a great testament to the band's use of brit-rock tradition without losing their own sound. The song is more to the "punk" part of "post-punk" but it's enjoyable to hear the band redefine instead of blindly copying past work. Even through this "harder, faster" song the soaring quality of the album is intact. "K Hole" speaks a bit of the same language with its distorted vocals and springy rhythm guitar - I especially appreciate the use of a hi-hat to break through the fluffy, soft guitars. "What You Need The Most" is a spacey lullaby on which the band utilizes the synths, guitars and the vocal stylings of Ray Bradbury to perfection.

Instead of measuring British Sea Power on what they used to be or comparing them to how they want us to see them - let's try to just observe the album as it is: It has some great songs with a more pop'ish appeal, it has songs that appeal more to the "garage" crowd and of course it has the more post-punk elements. But even though I sense both talent and unfolding honesty - it's just a bit too introvert and "artsier than thou" to really strike an emotional chord. The album is a dystopian story with accents of fairytales, but it never really crosses the border between the listener sensing something and the listener feeling something. At least that's what I am left with and that's why I sadly ended up only falling a little bit in love with "Machineries of Joy".


Download: Machineries of Joy,
For The Fans Of: Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, Editors

Release Date 10.04.2013
Rough Trade

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