British Sea Power - Machineries Of Joy

Songs in the quay of life

If 2011’s Valhalla Dancehall was an
effortless explosion of BSP’s stylistic
range, this concise follow-up is an
exercise in restraint. While hosting
their monthly Krankenhaus nights in
Brighton for the first half of 2012, the
group amassed over 30 new demos,
releasing them across six EPs. The
typically varied collection has been
pared down to 10 finalists for an
album that’s part mood piece, part
springtime flourish.

Like spring itself, Machineries Of
Joy reveals its bounty slowly; you
barely see it working – and then it’s
suddenly there: majestic and full of
nuance. Where their film scores (Man
Of Aran, From The Sea To The Land
Beyond) wove in motifs from BSP’s
own back catalogue, here the
influence runs the other way:
atmospheric tape loops, gently
stacked choral vocals and Abi Fry’s
violin tie the album together into one
beautifully evocative whole. Disarmingly
effective, What You Need The Most
emerges as a doomed romantic’s
waltz, while the likes of Spring Has
Sprung and A Light Above Descending
encapsulate that BSP magic: the
ability to make something ethereal feel
like a tangible, universal truth.

It’s been 10 years since the
group’s beloved debut introduced
them as one of the most exciting,
dynamic groups of the 00s; as
contemporaries The Strokes and
Killers continue their decline into
increasingly lumpen irrelevance,
Machineries Of Joy proves that BSP
are still in bloom.

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Rough trade | tbc (CD / LP / cassette)

Reviewed by Jason Draper
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