After 10 years of making music together you might think BRITISH SEA POWER, the UK’s ever so brilliant yet, underrated indie rockers, found their standard recipe to a good and solid indie rock album. Well, you can certainly hear the experience these six lads can show for themselves, yet despite all doubts they again released an intense, “warm and restorative” record, as they like to call it themselves. Does this make them boring? Their newly released record proves not to be anything like that. Although Machineries of Joy certainly hasn’t moved on stylistically far from their last release Valhalla Dancehall in 2011, we don’t think there was any need to. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is a wonderfully glum but graceful record, with an honest heart and an uplifting sentiment.
“We’d like to think the album is warm and restorative,” says singer and guitarist Yan. “Various things are touched on in the words – Franciscan monks, ketamine, French female bodybuilders turned erotic movie stars. The world often seems a mad place at the moment. You can’t really be oblivious to that, but we’d like the record to be an antidote – a nice game of cards in pleasant company.” Bridging a dreamlike gap between theatrical orchestral sections and jittering guitar rock, Machineries of Joy offers a halfway house between the epic and the dreamy, resulting in an uplifting record perfect for relaxing with the sun on your face.
The longplayers first half represents certainly the more raucous rock side – the second half is playing it a little more gently. In K-Hole, a track about the band’s diverse experience with ketamine, the burst of energy deriving from it’s wonderful vibrancy of the guitar strings is definitely heard and felt in every fibre of one’s body. It even kind of makes you want to dance – which is actually not very typical for BRITISH SEA POWER tracks. Monsters of Sunderland, however, shows a very contrary dynamic. Its brilliant and uplifting, almost orchestral, sound of trumpet fanfares combined with its chorus “Elevate me higher, please” makes it it the stand-out piece of the album and fits perfectly with it’s overall euphoric sound. Machineries of Joy is at once reliable and familiar, yet fresh and rewarding. It continues, each song growing more and more bleak, but with a genuine warmth and spirit ending with a pretty ballad with a sweet but not sickly melody – When A Warm Wind Blows Through The Grass. And at only thirty-four minutes long, it is utterly exhausting. After a few minutes recovery though, you will put it on again.
BRITISH SEA POWER are quite something and Machineries of Joy tries to be nothing other than itself. Which is the nicest thing you can say about anything, really.
Stream the entire album at Rough Trade right here.