Every day for the rest of December I’ll be recommending some music for your ears – or maybe it could serve as something of a Christmas gift guide. It’ll be a mix of classic albums, neglected gems and new bits of gorgeousness.
British Sea Power are not a normal band. Normal bands do not reference obscure types of moth, grey coveralls, the best cup of tea they ever had, and a deep love of foliage in just one song (‘Something Wicked’) and yet still manage to produce music with a resonance that is touching regardless of whether or not you happen to be a wildlife expert. Normal bands do not start beautiful, sad love songs with seascape sounds and the words “Jesus fucking Christ, oh God no” (‘Fear of Drowning’). And normal bands certainly do not manage to make wailed cries of “Oh let me be your instrument!” sound so appealing.
That said, though, who wants to be normal? You have to be different to be noticed: hence the charts being full of quirky pop tarts with interesting life stories; wacky characters whose lack of talent is masked by their crazy antics; self-consciously weird posers, and so on. It is all starting to get rather tiresome. But British Sea Power don’t fit into this mould either – deliberately obscure though their references may sometimes be, there’s a self-assurance about them that brings something very genuine to their work. They write songs about the things they love; they just have a wider sphere of influence than, well, most normal people.
The Decline of British Sea Power, then, is something of a masterpiece. It has painfully raw moments – singer Yan’s vocals manage to be simultaneously breathy and yelped, which is a peculiarly emotive combination, especially when teamed with slicing guitars and palpitating beats – and the sheer filthy-but-literary lust expressed in ‘Apologies to Insect Life’ is yet to be equalled in British rock. So, no, they’re not a normal band. Normal bands are nowhere near this good.