Music review: British Sea Power 'Machineries of Joy'

Oklahoman Modified: April 11, 2013 at 1:09 am •  Published: April 12, 2013
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British Sea Power ‘Machineries of Joy' (Rough Trade)

British Sea Power launches into its fifth full-length album steering a guitar-and-electronic-keyboard-propelled vessel set at a comfortable percussive cruise-control speed calculated to quicken the pulse while simultaneously transporting us to a spirit-soothing space as guitarist Yan Scott Wilkinson sings with a breathy, restrained insistency that “we are magnificent machineries of joy.”

That title cut, named after a 1964 sci-fi short story collection by the visionary Ray Bradbury, sets the celestial tone for a 10-song collection of cerebral Brit-pop that might have left a smile on the late author's face even if he wasn't necessarily a fan of such 21st century young folks' music. The instrumental crunchiness and psych-rock abandon that fires “K Hole,” and the astral fuzz-grind and asylum-committable choir backing of “Loving Animals” may have puzzled old Ray a bit (or maybe not). But the orchestral grandeur of the inspirational “What You Need the Most,” “Radio Goddard,” “A Light Above Descending” and the majestically melancholy album closer “When a Warm Wind Blows Through the Grass” would soothe even the savage breast of Ursine Ultra, the band's 10-foot, crowd-surfing stage bear.

The band seems finally to have found its musical identity in a fitful, dreamlike mix of post-punk edginess and moody big-ballad beauty that sets British Sea Power nautical miles apart from any other conceptual indie band that tends to suffer unwanted comparisons to Joy Division.

— Gene Triplett


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