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Pretty Pop

British Sea Power

British Sea Power - Open Season
(Rough Trade Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 8, 2005

Review by Tony Bonyata

While the trend of indie rock bands rummaging through early '80s new wave music might seem a little obvious these days - with acts like The Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs, stellastar and Q and Not U all making careers out of angular rhythms and dated synths - there is one band in particular, British Sea Power, that stands out of the crowd with their own stamp of originality.
On the band's second full-length album entitled Open Season vocalist and guitarist Yan adds a sense of drama (in a similar vein as Pulp's Jarvis Cocker) to these melodic pop songs with a vocal delivery that pleads, whispers and begs throughout numbers such as the haunting "Oh Larson B," the infectious "It Ended Up On An Oily Stage" and the majestic pop of their forthcoming single "Please Stand Up." With the addition of viola and lilting falsetto harmonies on the gentile "The Land Beyond" and the quirky pop sensibilities and angst-filled guitar that abound on "How Will I Find My Way Home?" British Sea Power show just how far they're able to stretch out musically while still staying within the boundaries of their own unique formula.
When this East Sussex quintet dips their collective toes into the past, they do so with a touch of class as they purposely sidestep the overwrought use of synthesizers and guttural moans, instead building their songs from the ground up with a highly textured soundscape of lush arrangements, sweeping melodies and edgy guitar-lines that are reminiscent of The Cure, The Smiths and even latter-day Pixies.
With a pop record as pretty as it is seductive British Sea Power are one of the few bands today that are actually making new wave music sound new again.

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