British Sea Power Open Season

[Rough Trade; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock, post-punk
Others: The Walkmen, The Cure, Joy Division


To be honest with you, I've been getting pretty sick of all this psuedo-slowcore post-punk crap that seems to be all the rage nowadays. Don't act like you don't know exactly what I'm talking about -- bands like the Walkmen, peddling their terrible, lazy Cure-influenced guitar rock. By this point, I've heard enough hookless guitars and whining, detached vocals to last me a lifetime. I'd sworn off this emerging genre as just another embarrassing dance-punk-esque fad, a new brand of awful fodder for bored, tasteless hipsters to endlessly praise. This sort of vapid, lifeless music had no place for me, I thought, and I'd be damned if I'd have to listen to any more of it.

But surprisingly, British Sea Power have done what so many of these groups have tried to do but failed; they've made a relatively catchy, enjoyable record out of this awful genre. By infusing their songs with some much needed energy and a few choice hooks taken from the britpop notebook, they've made an album that's actually able to sustain a listener's interest for its entire duration. Take the opening track, for example. "It Ended On An Oily Stage" could've been a bland and predictable four minutes, but its clever guitar lines more than make up for a fairly simple melody and shoegaze-esque tones.

Subtle touches like these help rescue Open Season from the typical pitfalls of the genre. On "The Land Beyond," classy violins and some soft "Ooohs" enhance the song's wistful mood. On "Victorian Ice," an electric guitar follows alongside the melody while a clean acoustic guitar carries the song. This album's production is clearly right on the mark, and BSP has quite the knack for spiffing up some otherwise ho-hum bands with clever compositional tricks.

But it's not all pristine pop and heavy hooks; there are a few tracks that all the knob-tweaking in the world couldn't have fixed. Random electric guitar screeches won't stop me from skipping past the rambling "Like a Honeycomb," and don't even get me started on "True Adventures," the eight-minute mess of a closing track. But for the most part, BSP is successful in their attempt to infuse a britpop sensibility into the otherwise insipid post-punk genre.

1. It Ended On An Oily Stage
2. Be Gone
3. How Will I Ever Find My Way Home?
4. Like A Honeycomb
5. Please Stand Up
6. North Hanging Rock
7. To Get To Sleep
8. Victorian Ice
9. Oh Larsen B
10. Land Beyond, The
11. True Adventures

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