“This album is a roller coaster of a beast, the sound of a band having fun that should hopefully see them propelled into the category of rabble rousing festival sing- along types…”
British Sea Power | Machineries of Joy
Sometimes a band drifts out of your focus, then do something so blinkingly spectacular that you forget they ever went away. British Sea Power, who, in the era of debut album The Decline Of British Sea Power began life giving out Kendal Mint cake at gigs up and down university venues, have done just that with the fantastic Machines Of Joy, which follows 2011’s somewhat average “Valhalla Dancehall”.
Importantly, Machineries Of Joy is a very different beast to the wallflower that was Valhalla Dancehall. If the latter was the sound of a band treading water then the former is the sound of a band splashing around at the water park. There are even songs you can dance to. Properly dance to. Not stand-in-corner-arms-folded dancing, but get-up-on-the-floor-shake-your-second-hand-cardigan dance to kind of tunes, most notably ‘Loving Animals’, which, with lyrics such as “loving animals, loving animals, I want you to know man it’s wrong man” and its frequent circus references, could be about anything from bestiality to being a carny, but with a tune this good who really cares?
From the upbeat tempo of ‘Loving Animals’ British Sea Power turn it down a notch with ‘What You Need The Most’ – an almost ballad – a tribute to a previous lover now reflecting from a more mature time in their life. All slow, reflective and building into a crescendo, this is British Sea Power doing perhaps what they do best – slow burning reflective indie jams that can be swayed to in sticky disco halls up and down the country, or rocked back and forth do by former lovers in darkened rooms.
But the roller coaster continues. No sooner are you phoning the ex than you are dropping the telephone, grabbing the nearest mate’s shoulder with a supermarket-branded lager and dancing around to the album’s standout track ‘Monster’s Of Sunderland’; a booming, electro laden, lyrically depressing-but impossible-not-to-dance-to track shifts the album to a previously untouched level. It is a track that could, and quite frankly should, be this summer’s go to floor filler.
Elsewhere the misleadingly happy titled ‘Spring Has Sprung’ and ‘Radio Goddard’ keep you guessing. These tracks, which fit in well to an album that is the musical equivalent of spending a night in with a rather unbalanced, yet brilliant friend, take the whole thing down a far less danceable but equally as brilliant road. The relentless beat of ‘Spring Has Sprung’ with its frequent, oh so frequent, references to the passing of time “ticking clocks”, “cockerel’s crow”, and ‘Radio Goddard’ with its opening imperative of “oh boy don’t forget who you are”.
Slightly disappointingly the opening track, single, and title track ‘Machineries of Joy’ is perhaps the weakest on the album, the rousing chorus “we are magnificent machineries of joy” being somewhat let down by non-committal, nonsensical, lyrics, and overly musically inflated verses
However, this album is, as previously mentioned, a roller coaster of a beast, the sound of a band having fun that should hopefully see them propelled into the category of rabble rousing festival sing- along types, leaving memories of Valhall Dancehall sulking awkwardly around the back.