Open Season – Sea Power
Please Stand Up – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records)
When Sea Power (Ok, I’ll deal with this now, they’ve dropped the British from their name. So I’m not using it) toured their marvellous second album ‘Open Season’ they played a gig in Exeter. That gig culminated with them throwing sticks at the audience, one of which hit me squarely on the back of the head. The band in an act of mischievousness had clambered on to each other’s shoulders and were just lobbing things at the crowd for laughs. So, I should perhaps, in some form of solidarity to my bruised scalp, hate this record, but I can’t because it is a beautiful record. It is the bands most accomplished and triumphant record. But as I am here I’ll also tip my hat in the direction of their debut ‘The Decline of British Sea Power’ and their third ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ both are also marvellous and both could if I was in a pixyish mood have appeared here.
Midway through ‘Open Season’ comes a track called ‘North Hanging Rock’ which is the absolutely definition of musical serenity. The song is all piano and gentle sprays of feedback that are accompanied by the twittering of birds and what sounds like leaves being trodden on. Yan’s vocals are barely more than a pleading whisper as he asks us very politely to
“Drape yourself in greenery, become part of the scenery”
And it’s beautiful. I think he’s singing about death but it doesn’t really matter because it’s also part of the appeal of Sea Power, part of their uniqueness. Birdsong may not be the most rock and roll thing in the world, but when used effectively its amazing and of course its been used by the band because they are not trying to be twee but because they are fans of nature and the countryside.
North Hanging Rock – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records)
Nature and the countryside feature a lot in Sea Power’s records, this one is no different. Giant icebergs, the Scandinavian Herring Gull, and the American Whopping Crane are amongst the things that get namechecked on ‘Open Season’. The iceberg (more of an ice shelf really) forms the focus for the second single from the album, ‘Oh Larsen B’ and contains possibly the greatest declaration of nature love ever laid down on wax
“You’re fractured and cold, but your heart is unbroken. My favourite foremost coastal Antarctic Shelf”
Oh Larsen B – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records)
But its not all epic songs about icebergs and decaying nature. There are at least three absolutely epic pop songs that have vast choruses that if I wanted to keep the geography analogy going could be described as being as deep as the Cheddar Gorge. Here’s just one of them, but the other two are ‘Be Gone’ and ‘Please Stand Up’ (which I’ve stuck up the top).
It Ended On an Oily Stage – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records)
‘Open Season’ ends with a sumptuous ballad called ‘True Adventures’ is builds gently and then is slowly eaten up by waves of guitar noise. It is a terrific way to end an album that is not just stunning, but one filled with optimism, imagination and mystery.
True Adventures – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records)