There’s something about listening to British Sea Power’s new album, “Open Season,” that makes me want to just take off — leave all the BS behind and just set out on the open road without so much as worrying who will feed my cat. Escape seems to be the primary plan for the lads of British Sea Power who are “headed for the coastlry,” attracted by the “motorway exit gates,” want to “become part of the scenery” — and that’s just in three songs. And who can’t relate to the need to run, run, run … um, no comment from the cubicle dweller penning this article.
British Sea Power are also doing a bit of an escape act themselves, in that their sound is quite a bit different from the first album, “The Decline of British Sea Power.” It’s not completely transformed; if you feel in love with “Something Wicked” or “Blackout” on their first CD, you’ll find a lot to like on “Open Season,” but the band seems to have — here comes the dirty word — matured. Their sound often gets compared to Echo and the Bunnymen, but really, on this new CD, they don’t have that kind of over-the-top theatrical quality. The sound feels more honest and more real and to this listener, it’s sweet relief from the over-polished quality of some Brit-pop bands. Singer Yan almost sounds like he’s spent as much time listening to good old American rockers — there’s a little bit of a yearning Replacement's era Paul Westerberg quality to his vocal.
A little background: British Sea Power are five gents from Brighton, England, who don’t seem to have last names. They made their name touring with the Flaming Lips and the Strokes, dressing up in World War I garb, and putting on a live show that was so thrilling that people would forget exactly who it was they’d come to see. This involved bassist Hamilton climbing trees and Yan beating on the drumkit with a stuffed owl. I’ve yet to see them live but plan to check them out when they kick off their tour in Seattle next week.
But there’s more to these guys than outrageous stage antics, the songs are rich, textured and passionate. Some of the songs, like “It Happened on an Oily Stage” are pure poppy goodness — full of good hooks and melodies. But the boys remember their former selves in the more meandering “North Hanging Rock,” which hypnotically advises you to “Drape yourself in greenery / Become part of the scenery.” I’m putting that down on my list of things to do right now.
In the song, “Please Stand Up,” Yan sings, “If there's anyone asking, did you get a rush? / There's no point in asking, it wasn't enough.” This is definitely the attitude of the CD. You should just feel the rush. I for one, most definitely, did. You might, too.
For more information on British Sea Power, visit http://www.britishseapower.co.uk/.