British Sea Power: Valhalla Dancehall (Rough Trade) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #34 - Year End 2010 - Sufjan StevensBritish Sea Power

Valhalla Dancehall

Rough Trade

Jan 13, 2011 Issue #34 - Year End 2010 - Sufjan Stevens Bookmark and Share

Three-legged horses are usually put down. The tripodal mustang that adorns Valhalla Dancehall‘s cover seems to want to dance, but is partially bound by British Sea Power’s epic sense of determination. Thankfully, the band does find middle ground and the music takes on some of the playfulness of the band’s lyrics; a tidy step back from the awesome arena rock of Do You Like Rock Music?

“Living Is So Easy” embodies that lighthearted spirit in both word and song. A peppy beat underscores quirky layers of keyboard arpeggios and the silly/smart opening lyric, “Well oh my God did she look cute at the Dame Vera clay pigeon shoot.” Trademark bombastic guitar? Absent…at least from this song. Or check out the electro-y blips and beeps and pumping bass of “Stunde Null,” a quick, upbeat number about Germany’s final ruin in World War II.

Fans fear not: Strident, guitar-oriented bravado still carries the band through most of Valhalla Dancehall. The first two songs, “Who’s In Control” and “We Are Sound,” are classic BSP; the latter’s guitar riff resembling a sped up version of 2005’s “It All Ended on an Oily Stage.”

The winning songs on the album are the ones that use all of the band’s assets and do not rely heavily on any one element. The straightforward rock song “Mongk 11” pulls this off by incorporating keyboard bounce, charging guitar, and beautiful scraping viola, all while encouraging human regression with such lines as, “Gotta rock in time back to 798.” “Thin Black Sail” and closer “Once More Now” also reward listeners with a wonderfully balanced instrumental mesh. The former rocks with brief, unhinged abandon while “Once More Now” is the requisite extended length BSP tour de force following in the footsteps of “Lately,” “True Adventures,” or any number of lush and/or delicate songs from the Man of Aran soundtrack. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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wings io
December 30th 2018

Three-legged horse symbol is a beautiful and prominent symbol. shows a power.