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British Sea Power: Do You Like Rock Music?

Do You Like Rock Music? charts another step in the evolution that took British Sea Power from post-punk-flavored debut The Decline of British Sea Power to slicker sophomore disc Open Season. For record No. 3, BSP enlisted three producers, including former Arcade Fire drummer Howard Bilerman — notable because this album is Neon Bible for people who do, in fact, like rock music. "Canvey Island" is cut from the same melodic cloth as Bible's "Intervention," with a warmer texture. "Down on the Ground," the kind of track that sets BSP apart, sounds like Ian Hunter playing indie rock. If Arcade Fire merely teases, British Sea Power hits you in the mouth; Rock Music is definitely moody but lacks debilitating melodrama. The band's Euro roots shine through in "Trip Out," recalling London Suede in a way no stateside band could. "Open the Door" is straightforward folk-rock, showcasing BSP's taste and restraint — but for the feedback explosion two-thirds in. However, the eight-minute "We Close Our Eyes" is too epic for its own good; none of the first half's ambient noise adds anything to the choral closing half. Similar bands like Doves and Arcade Fire seem to be playing from some higher plane, but British Sea Power's sound rises from a subterranean morass of soil, blood and distortion, enabling them to connect with their audience on a truly visceral level. Although Rock Music is too calculated to be transcendent, ultimately falling short of BSP's impossibly high standards, it could still be a prelude to true greatness.

 
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