Are you ready for Valhalla? Are you ready for the Dancehall?

1 Dec

Brighton-based British Sea Power is one of those bands whose music is neither fully euphoric nor truly melancholic. Valhalla Dancehall is no exception.

In true British Sea Power style, the album is grungy, catchy, cacophonous and interwoven with the lyrics of those quietly lost at sea.

The collection of thirteen songs begins with the upbeat tracks of “Who’s in Control” and “We Are Sound”: songs which, as previously alluded to, present an underlying framework of confusion and longing glinting through the chips and cracks in a veneer of Major-Chorded Music You Would Jump Up And Down To At A Concert. These are the songs you can see yourself raging to with that girl from four floors below you, who seems groggy and flustered during the day between lectures, but turns into a hellcat when you go gigging at night. This is music that would bring you freedom if you jumped and shouted along to it: the feeling that even though your shoes are sticky and there’s beer in your hair, it’s freezing outside, you miss your mum and your dad, you have no idea where to start with that Anthropology essay and that guy back home is already kissing another girl, there is happiness somewhere else in the world, even if it’s right here but in a different time frame: the acceptance that everything is fucked but everyone is here and together tonight, and maybe life is supposed to be about confusion.

The album continues to more aggressive – or at least sinister – tracks, namely “Stunde Null” and “Mongk II”, which uses tinnier vocals and a more electronic instrumental sound to emphasize concepts of the robotic and dehumanising aspects of human society put across in its lyrics.

Valhalla Dancehall also features softer, slower, songs like “Baby”: a more smoothly and subtlely-instrumented composition whose gentle main vocals are accompanied with feminine third harmonies throughout the song; as well as the British Sea Power token plays-for-a-hundred-years (read: eleven minutes) track, “Once more now”, which, although its lyrics express a feeling of defeated emotional fatigue, ends in a space of comforting detachment emphasized by the final lyrics: “…fuck ’em”.

Although I enjoy the entire album, my favourite song so far is undoubtedly “Luna”, simply for its lyrics, which cut to the bones of the parts of us which plan things we never do, listening to records, drinking tea and trying to figure out why or how things are the way they are.

British Sea Power occupies a space in my head for their instrumental layering and unpredictability, as well as the complexity of emotion and possible interpretation present in their lyrics.

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One Response to “Are you ready for Valhalla? Are you ready for the Dancehall?”

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  1. Magnificent Machineries of Joy | As of yet Untitled - 5 December 2013

    […] being the most euphoric collection of British Sea Power‘s music I have heard thus far. Whilst Valhalla Dancehall perhaps exuded an air of “life is shit right now, but you’re not alone and it’s […]

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