British Sea Power - The Decline of British Sea Power (Reissue) (Golden Chariot Records)

Cult alt. rock band return to their debut LP twelve years since its release

Released Jun 8th, 2015 via Golden Chariot Records / By Erick Mertz
British Sea Power - The Decline of British Sea Power (Reissue) (Golden Chariot Records) Although The Decline of British Sea Power is a relatively new album, it is certainly primed for the re-issue treatment. You heard me correctly there. Primed. Age doesn’t make for readiness; relevance always does. Released in 2003, British Sea Power's debut is a ripe twelve years old (a nice round age for dusting off, for sure) the seminal LP has been through a proverbial ringer.

Launched in an era lousy with clever indie rock bands, the classic debut was for all intents, lost. Coming back around, in 2015, with smart rock a fractured, smarmy genre, Decline... has its best chance at the deep impression it was always meant to have. These lads weren’t partying with super models (OK, they were likely having a good time, but it doesn’t show; their debut stands out a serious piece of music). They were writing smart songs, without a care in the world except to find a receptacle big enough for the voluminous knowledge of obscure history, literature, and of course, double naval entendres. And the lads that crafted this were only in their early twenties. The promise was limitless.

The album opens with a curious, eerie vocal harmony piece, “Men Together Today” before dropping the two-set burst of punk energy, “Apologies to Insect Life” which kicks out with an unforgettable bass line and “Favours In The Beetroot Fields” which is slower, but no less urgent than its predecessor. Once those first three tracks are through though, Decline settles down into its bedrock of coolly disaffected Bowie vocals (just listen to “Only The Lonely” and try to put aside images of the man who fell to earth) and passionate, urgent rock.

The (then) quartet of Cumbria lads prove over (and over) the duration they know how to craft tracks with all the urgency that made Joy Division’s comet streak across our sky (“Remember Me”) to the eerie midnight gaze of Echo And The Bunnymen (“Something Wicked” and “Fear of Drowning”). Their influences are vast, and displayed with deft skill without seeming like a direct homage. The defining track though, and not because at almost fourteen minutes it’s the longest, is “Lately”, an epic that allowed the opportunity to stand on its own would showcase everything the band would offer for the next decade. The track sways soft and moody, peaking with a cascade of melancholic choruses before ascending further into a dizzying swirl of electric guitars and messy noise.

Perhaps British Sea Power has been on your radar; perhaps they passed under the more meteoric bands of their time. Either way, their re-issued debut cannot be ignored out of sheer brilliance, and a deft sense of timeliness.