(Golden Chariot / Caroline)
Against a backdrop of, as the band say, ‘uncontrollable international lunacy’ national treasures
British Sea Power could hardly have made a more fitting album for current times. In Let The Dancers Inherit The Party they have an album which recognises the uncertainty, the despondency, and the disbelief as common sense falls out of fashion, but also a long player which holds out earthy and defiant hope.
Their first original material in four years they deliver this pragmatic optimism in catchy and infectiously danceable art pop, as references to a disrupted past as a stand in for today are casually but not carelessly made. They return throughout the album to connections made, lost, and uncared for. From opener Bad Bohemian where synths swell around the building band and “let us not die while we are still alive” becomes an incantation not just for the very real possibility of extinguished life, but a ward against the sleep-walking wage-slave existence prevalent today.
Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde) is a bombastic anthem referencing the German phrase equivalent to ‘six degrees of separation’; Electric Kittens an ode to that on the surface feels like nostalgia for the lost Empire but has a more sinister undertone of ordinary folk waiting for the consequence of the elite’s reckless actions. Alone Piano is layers analogue scratches with mourning strings, brightened by the sparse piano, the distant rumble of a military beat. It manages to be both sombre and uplifting, bolstering resolve as the album comes to a close. Throughout the record they reference the history and art of Europe, as celebratory and embedded in the continent as they have ever been.
Without being showy, this is an album generously heaped in melancholy without being indulgently maudlin where for every dark cloud cast by global disquiet there is the ray of light in the encouragement to recognise and nurture our own small lives and connections. As much as this is an album that through lyric, artwork and mood is about warnings of the past and the fear of history repeating, it is also a forward-looking work where our world may be much changed but life will go on.
Let The Dancers Inherit The Party finds a band who are rightly held in high esteem, continuing to carve a fascinating creative path from the career of being working musicians, unflinching in celebrating a place in the world and all that may mean. Grandiose in sound, but never ostentatious in delivery, this record marks a welcome return and and delivers delight in sound, style and solidarity.