British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall

Right around this time of year, it’s pretty easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. The holiday hangover, the blustery weather…it’s as if the world is commanding you to stay inside with a warm cup of tea and a big plate of self-pity. British Sea Power will have none of that, thank you very much. While the band has been known to craft a tune or two that wallows a bit in its own miserable mush, BSP is at its strongest when it’s unspooling brisk, sky-cracking rock n’ roll; and on VALHALLA DANCEHALL, the focus is on precisely that. British Sea Power’s version of uplifting music is more in the “lighting a fire to get you off your ass” vein than “life is grand so let’s smile a lot,” and from the opening salvo of “Who’s In Control” and “We Are Sound,” the band revs up its epic-rock engines in a way that seems precisely calibrated to shake off your midwinter doldrums. The 13 tracks here indulge the band’s tendencies towards raw grandiosity (hey, they ARE British), with a vibe that manages to be both comforting and rabble-rousing. Although a couple of numbers (“Baby,” “Georgie Ray”) get stuck in a sort of midtempo no-mans-land, for the most part, the meticulously crafted rock n’ roll on VALHALLA is as tasteful as it is powerful.

First appeared Jan. 11, 2011 at Shockhound.com.

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