BSP stuck in a slump in “Dancehall”

By Christine Saraceno
[email protected]

Brighton-based indie rockers, British Sea Power (BSP), are back with their not so aptly titled new album, “Valhalla Dancehall.” The BSP boys have dealt with years worth of unjustified comparisons to Arcade Fire, but they certainly won’t be hearing many of those comments this time around.

Arcade Fire and other semi-mainstream acts (Iron & Wine, Mumford and Sons) have perfected their own signature sounds and grown with each new record. Conversely, BSP has stayed loyal to the tired ethereal wails of albums past that helped them gain their first glimpses of popularity, without any real noticeable evolution in their sound or lyrical writing.

“Valhalla Dancehall” gets off to an energetic start with the heavy kick drum beat of “Who’s In Control?” with the piercing shrieks of lead singer Yan Wilkinson following closely behind. It seems as if the album is headed in a positive direction with the next two tracks being just as upbeat as the first.

Then it quickly loses momentum in the middle. This is in no small part due to the seven minute snooze-fest called “Cleaning out the Rooms”. Thanks to a lazy viola backdrop it becomes one long bore that the record never quite recovers from.

Proper mixing is a vital part of the making of any album in order to attain the perfect balance of music and vocals. However, it seems like those two components were completely disregarded as the overpowering instruments drown out the faint moans of Wilkinson. It’s something you would expect out of a band’s first album, not fifth.

This album presents listeners with nothing new and lacks any sense of real musicianship. It may be in their best interest to study the Arcade Fire formula a little closer so maybe their next record achieves a more polished and cohesive sound.