The band whose name was formerly appended by the word ‘British’ has made a rather triumphant return in their new guise as Sea Power. On the one hand, the things that have made the band so special – their distinctive quirkiness and eccentricity steeped in a certain pastoral/rural bliss and ability to combine intelligent, witty lyricism with ascendant pop melodies – remain firmly intact. On the other hand, in ‘Everything Was Forever’, due out on 18 February 2022, the horizons seem even wider and more expansive, the colors brighter and more dazzling and the sounds more complex and diverse.
Opening track, ‘Scaring At The Sky’ is a case in point. An relatively sombre opening, the pace creates a dream pop reverie with layered harmonies and a hypnotic flow over an acoustic shimmer. A thread of deep melancholy weaves its way through the track: this is widescreen and statuesque, stately and beautiful.
‘Transmitter’ presses ever so gently on the accelerator with its insistent, thundering, bubbling bass line and archetypal eviscerating lyrics (Another day, another age. I thought we were in this all together…What have you done my dear?) and a massive anthemic blast accentuated by a wildly fuzzy chaotic guitar solo. This is transcendent music as ever.
Early single ‘Two Fingers’ is classic Sea Power: pastoral, baroque, driving, intelligent indie rock with heart and passion. Co-frontman Jan Scott Wilkinson (vocals / guitars) says of the track:
The song is part inspired by our late dad. He was always giving a two-fingered salute to people on the telly – a kind of old-fashioned drinking term, toasting people or events: ‘I’ll drink two fingers to that’, to some news item or to memories of a childhood friend. In the song it’s a toast to everyone, remembering those in our lives and those sadly no longer here and to making the world a better place. The song is ‘F*** me, f*** you, f*** everything.’ But it’s also ‘Love me, love you, love everything’ – exultation in the darkness. If you say ‘f*** you’ in the right way, it really can be cathartic, a new start.
The classic Sea Power melodic and anthemic strength is to the fore: stirring and indelible music that shines with passion and verisimilitude. This is the classic sound of Sea Power with the dial turned up to eleven.
The motorik beats and distant whoo-hoos heralds an almost soulful Sea Power in the quiet ‘Fire Escape In The Sea’. A shimmering guitar riff etches trails in the sky, creating a gorgeous languid feel, with the instrumentation flowing like a dappling brook in the verdant countryside, synths creating birdlike warbles in the distance. Utterly compelling and dreamy.
‘Doppelganger’ wakes you from the reverie: a driving, punky blast with sneery inflections and a bag full of attitude – you’re a body snatcher, look at me I’ve got a new face. This is classic abrasive Sea Power – a yelping, berating, excoriating delivery over a rampant, belligerent wall of sound.
The yearning string-laden swoop of ‘Fear Eats The Soul’ gently removes the war paint and creates a gentle shuffle featuring Abi Fry’s vocals. This is a haunting floating elegiac track – slightly discordant, slightly discombobulating with a ghostly chorus.
This is followed by a cold towel to the face with the Giorgio Moroder disco wake-up call of ‘Folly’. A hyperkinetic throb creates a sinuous spine to the song as it tilts forwards into a trademark chorus that uplifts and sparkles with its cinematic sweep, in a portentous tale about sleeping humanity. This Sea Power at very height of their immeasurable powers:
Opening with lines that seem to eviscerate a protagonist – everybody knows you’re crooked through and through….we’re coming for you – ‘Green Goddess’ lurches into a pastoral waltz with romantic intent. According to Wilkinson:
Green Goddess was written with [guitarist] Noble. He had the initial idea for the music which I helped arrange and add vocals to. It is a love song about everything green from the Lake District to the New Forest. The places I love to be which are quiet and restorative. It is also a love song for my wife whose favourite colour is green. A rumination on human and non-human muses. There are dark and complicated things going on but sometimes it is good to forget this and go to the places and where you are happy. A hope that the future doesn’t have to be at odds with the past.
The dream pop fluidity of ‘Lakeland Echo’ illustrate the expansion of Sea Power’s vision: a floating, drifting track that hypnotises with double tracked vocals that, along with synth whispers, create a sonic disturbance: ethereal, transfixing, hypnotic.
In the last track, Sea Power advises ‘We Only Want To Make You Happy’. Mission accomplished. This complex layered track with haunting choirs in the distance, reverberated guitars and synths combining to create a heavenly veil. It is a song that ebbs and flows – reaching magnificent crescendos with hints of horns and easing down to bare bones at times with only scraping feedback echoing in the ether. It is a magnificent closure to the album that encapsulates this band: complex astounding walls of euphoric, anthemic sounds contrasted with a sweet and profound delicacy.
‘Everything Was Forever’ is a vital, shimmering and incandescent album: filled with contradictory sounds and movements, transforming within songs and across the album from the ethereal to the earthy, the delicate to the anthemic, but with a common intertwining thread of wry, knowing intelligence and indelible pop melodies.
The title for the Everything Was Forever album was inspired by Alexei Yurchak’s 2006 book
Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, a compelling overview of
Russia as Glasnost and Perestroika ushered in amazing changes. For Sea Power, the phrase Everything
Was Forever suggests both sonorous fatalism and an admonitory clarion call – act now regarding our
planet or soon reach a state where action is impossible.
Sea Power will be playing a special set of gigs this month to launch the album – details below. You can pre-order ‘Everything Is Now’ which is being released on 18 February 2022, and get tickets for the shows here.
Sea Power have also shared a run of headline UK tour dates. Tickets can be purchased here. Full details below.
Tuesday 12 – 1865, Southampton
Wednesday 13 – O2 Institute 2, Birmingham
Thursday 14 – Roundhouse, London
Tuesday 19 – O2 Academy, Bristol
Thursday 21 – Leadmill, Sheffield
Friday 22 – St Lukes, Glasgow
Saturday 23 – Albert Hall, Manchester
Sea Power are:
Jan Scott Wilkinson – vocals / guitars
Neil Hamilton Wilkinson – vocals / guitars
Martin Noble – guitars
Matthew Wood – drums
Abi Fry – viola
Phil Sumner – keyboards / cornet
Feature Photograph: Hollywood