Review by Eugenia Vela.
Music, film, fashion, photography, all art forms, really, are ways to communicate. Sometimes we use a song like we might use a Hallmark card—we take it and manipulate it to a certain situation because it says something we cannot say ourselves. But sometimes there is music that really says nothing at all. Such is the case of British Sea Power’s latest, Valhalla Dancehall.
Risking being a live target for all Sea Power fans, Valhalla Dancehall lies in a plateau of musical mediocrity. Sure, there’s the familiarity of the band’s sound, which has been compared to the likes of Joy Division and The Cure, but it’s the absolute familiarity that makes this album so…well, boring. The album begins with “Who’s In Control,” a weak entrance—it sounds like a forced attempt to try something, but the song accomplishes nothing at all.
‘Dancehall continues without a true stand-out track, although there are enjoyable—albeit quite forgettable—songs in between. “Luna,” “Baby” and “Cleaning Out The Rooms” float calmly with ghostly vocals, and “Observe The Skies” and “Georgie Ray” will be the most pleasing to the indie crowd. But the band, which has been known for their eccentricity and originality in choice of performance venues (like the Great Wall of China), seemed to have decided that to stay where they were is better than to move forward, or to move anywhere, for that matter.
“Mongk II,” a reworking of the Zeus EP’s “Mongk” seems to be closest to the band’s beloved sound. The track, a head-buzzing, lazily-sung stadium-thriller, has a lot more backbone than the rest of the record. But still, it would truly be something to find someone out there that would consider this album life-changing or anything of the sort. Huh. Maybe they thought ending Valhalla Dancehall with a 10-plus minute track would distract us from the album’s lack of substance.