Valhalla Dancehall

The wait is finally over.

British Sea Power release their new album Valhalla Dancehall *stifles cheer*.

It has a reassuringly bonkers cover featuring a three-legged horse set amidst a three coloured triangle. For the first time ever, the CD has a plastic tray and a booklet (Rough Trade have splashed a bit of extra cash here) complete with lyrics and everything.

Regular readers of this blog will be well versed in my obsession with the indie rock band cum national treasures that are BSP. I first saw them live in a small tent at a festival, surrounded by foliage and stuffed birds of prey – and the rest is history. I’d go as far as to say that they are my favourite band (am I too old to have a favourite band, I sound like a teenager…?) and I’m listening to the new album as I write this.

Predictably, I’d say that this could be their breakthrough album, but do I want it to be?

Probably not.

Sure it would be good to see the band receive some commercial success to go along with their critical accolades (the last album scraped a Mercury nomination), but I’m not sure that’s really why the band do what they do. I think if they made a shedload of cash with this album they’d only go and buy some dilapidated hill fort somewhere and record the next album there, with Victorian recording equipment, in the depths of winter, probably.

But if they became too successful, I wouldn’t be able to get tickets for the small, quirky gigs they play in social clubs and caverns and the camaraderie the fans enjoy would disappear. They’d play bigger, more soulless venues and I’d just get annoyed.

So even though I think this album is a work of genius, I’ll be keeping it QT. Unfortunately there are some rave revues for this album in the national press that are doing exactly the opposite.

If anyone asks me if I can recommend incandescent, richly textured music chock full of hooky tunes, I’ll shrug my shoulders in a non-committal way and point them in the direction of Arcade Fire.

I think this record is pitched perfectly: good enough to broaden their audience considerably, whilst at the same time it will never be palatable to the mainstream music hoi polloi.


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