British Sea Power - Open Season

Liam McGrady 20/03/2005

Rating: 4/5

There's absolutely no reason whatsoever that BSP shouldn't be one of the most loved bands to come from this fine country we live in. I mean they've got everything you could ever want. Lyrics name-checking dead poets and novelists, wistful, meandering songs, big loud fuck off songs and a live show complete with authentic err… forest stage props and dancing bears.

Compared to the stunning debut, 'The Decline Of', this album, at first, seems slightly underwhelming. But after a few spins it's slow burning charm begins to come through. 'Open Season' as a whole is atmospheric and evocative; like it was written to soundtrack the sun setting at the end of a perfect day. Every song is expertly crafted; organically grown; where each little guitar part or drum ripple compliments what goes before and comes after.

The record bursts into life with recent single, 'It Ended On An Oily Stage' and it's everything we've come to expect from BSP. Graceful and stylish, this track wins you over with frontman Yan's distinctive whispered vocals riding on the back of a relentless drumbeat and majestic guitar riff, while lyrically it's as obscure as ever, “We found God, in a Wiltshire field, whilst you did not.”

Whereas 'The Decline Of' felt like a swift glance into the band's private world and was sometimes beguiling and impenetrable, 'Open Season' feels like you've been welcomed into the gang with a warm smile and a secret handshake. On 'How Will I Ever Find My Way Home' it sounds as if Hamilton (taking a turn on vocal duties) is speaking directly to the listener, “I'm leaving here getting out of this place/Only certain kinds of people can take these things,” over a jaunty racket of a tune, albeit a beautiful racket.

Talking of beauty, 'Please Stand Up' is the type of song that you could listen to for days such is its sonic majesty. Having one of those yearning guitar lines that BSP seem to be able conjure up at will, it makes me feel like jumping into an open top sports car, long straight roads in front of me, and making a smooth gear change just as the widescreen, Technicolor chorus comes to life, “Is anyone asking did you get a rush, there's no point in asking, it wasn't enough, there's nobody else here, so please stand up.”

There does seem to be a recurring theme of failed relationships running through this record if you take the lyrics at face value. The dreamy, reverb heavy 'To Get To Sleep' for instance features the line, “Oh I've had my heart broken, it took my breath away” and on the orchestral enhanced, 'The Land Beyond” in amongst the sweet sounding “ooh's” and “aah's” and the softly shaken tambourines, are the words, “And when we get there, we'll go wandering/In the wilderness, getting in a mess.”

Bringing a fine album to a fine end with the ambitious 'True Adventures', which is like a musical kaleidoscope, where you put your ear to it instead of your eye, and twist and turn until the most gorgeous sounds merge together, British Sea Power really do make me feel proud to be a native of these Isles.