» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
British Sea Power
Open Season
Rough Trade Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

May 20, 2005
Aligning oneself with a band after a first release is fairly simple. If you discover them quickly enough, there's nothing to consider except the music that you have in front of you - no back catalog, no magazine photo spreads and no fan blogs. Namedropping said band becomes more complicated after their sophomore release, however, as you have to decide which album is the superior, and what that says about your tastes. Not to mention the fact that a reference to Room on Fire will always involve a comment on Is This It, be it intended or otherwise.

For some time now, I've been thinking of the implications of British Sea Power's discography. Open Season is nothing like The Decline of British Sea Power, which is an anomaly of angular stompers and dramatic operettas. If I like Open Season more, what am I saying about their outstanding debut? If I prefer the first release, does that mean I have no faith in their future projects? I could always say I like one just as much as the other, but any opinion is better than none at all. To help me decide, I made a list of the pro's and con's:

Pro: Open Season has the freshness factor going for it. Whereas The Decline of British Sea Power offered a frantic jouisannce of guitar distortion led by vocalist Yan's bulletproof wailing, BSP's latest outing is neatly cut and effortless in its melodic simplicity. The hook on "Victorian Ice" could have written itself and "Please Stand Up" retains the drama of their previous work with just a handful of notes.

Con: It may be too simple. Decline is easy to pick up two years after its release because it wasn't immediately accessible back then. After the first few months of listening, I was skipping as many tracks as I was playing on repeat. It took me a while to find a way into songs like "The Lonely" and "A Wooden Horse," but now I get it. The gratifying feeling of going back to a song you had to figure out is lost on Open Season, whose songs jump out at you right away but don't offer many secrets with subsequent listens.

Pro: Open Season is more together. It never strays from the aesthetic of windy ballads through all 47 minutes and 35 seconds. "It Ended On An Oily Stage" bleeds into "Be Gone," which in turn shifts into "How Will I Ever Find My Way Home?." Even the titles have smooth transitions, for Christ's sake. The effect of this is that you'll listen to the whole album and not even know it - time flies when the sailing is as smooth as this.

Con: Open Season is more together. The Decline of British Sea Power benefits from its eccentricity - the opening chant of "Men Together Today" has nothing to do with the ferocity of "Apologies To Insect Life," but the juxtaposition keeps you on your toes. I doubt BSP have lost this edge, but it is certainly concealed on Open Season under tranquil, rocking waves.

Pro: Open Season's Ursa Major album art is pretty cool.

Con: The Decline of British Sea Power is a genius name for a debut album.

Decision: This all seems an exercise in futility; both albums have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. At the risk of sounding like a cop-out, I'm going to have to say that the two albums complement each other. Open Season is a worthy addition to the already-notable British Sea Power collection, with its Cure-y bounce and inviting choruses. I liked BSP's first album when it was all I had to go on, knowing that they were full of piss and vinegar and gobs of potential waiting to seep out of every pore. Now that I've heard the spawn of such potential, I have a deeper appreciation for their previous album. I have a feeling the pattern will continue with their next release, and I can't wait for the third album to shed some light on Open Season.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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