Live Blog: Open Season by British Sea Power

The oft-glam, thoroughly rock sound of British Sea Power's 2003 debut, The Decline OF British Sea Power, left me wanting more. Now I will attempt to live-blog my first listen of their sophomore effort, Open Season, released this week...

  • I've just torn off the plastic wrapping and I'm putting it in the player now. Clocks in at 46 minutes 34 seconds. Pressing Play.

  • Track 1: It Ended On An Oily Stage
    Opens with a slight feedback swell. drums hit, then some indy pop guitars four bars or so and vocals. Nice poppy sound, but not too poppy. I think I hear a piano doing eighth notes in the background. No, maybe it's a twangy guitar. Is that a shaker or a tamborine? Breathy vocals like first album. Down to a single angular guitar at the bridge and then it builds back up. Solos, nice solid drum fills, guitar wail crescendos up over everything. Here comes the second track. I like it so far.

  • Track 2: Be Gone
    Upbeat with an acoustic guitar added to the mix. For some reason, this is reminding me of the theme song from The Breakfast Club-- song's title has slipped my mind for the moment. Oh, yeah, "Don't You (Forget About Me)," right? there's something I like about the sound of this record. It's got a pretty sound, but it's not that annoying type of pretty. That song seemed short...

  • Track 3: How Will I Ever Find My Way Home?
    Starts with vocals and something that sounds like birds lightly chirpring, but I think it's just fingers on the guitar strings. This one starts to rock a little more on the chorus (or bridge?). Big guitar/drum hits. I like. Goes to the floor tom now. I'm bopping my head. I think I like this one best so far.

  • Track 4: Like A Honeycomb
    Starts with another swell. This song's more laid back. Dreamy sounding. Now it's picking up, hard snare hits on the downbeats. Everything stops, then back to that laid back sound. They like that swelling sound in the background. I like it, too. It adds a good base to their sound. It swells, it swirls, it is good.

  • Track 5: Please Stand Up
    Starts with drums, then big guitar sound with some synth backup. Piano and vocals come in. I'm tapping my foot. In the choruses, the drums do a really simple, but efective thing. Piano note rings out at the end.

  • Track 6: North Hanging Rock
    okay, those are definitely birds chirping along to that acoustic guitar now. Nice light opening, but why the birds? And footsteps on crunching leaves and grass. I guess we're out for a hike now. ride cymbal and organ. It's building nicely. Kick drum pushes it along nicely now. Another guitar and piano. I'm starting to lightly bop my head. More swelling guitar. And there's the snare drum, that means the intro is over, folks-- in case you did not know. Still building though. Tempo might be picking up some here. Then it all drops out. Just vocals and it's over. Nice, except the birds.

  • Track 7: To Get To Sleep
    Cool start, almost sounds like a fifties rock beat at first. Now it picks up. Big downbeats. Nice fill. I like the guitar sound. Was that acoustic guitar there before? I don't rememeber. Solo= swelling guitar feedback.

  • Track 8: Victorian Ice
    Effect at befinning is kind of cool. I think I'm noticing why their sound works. There seems to be a big space between the bass and treble and the vocals fill it in just the right way. Wow, how insightful of me. That synthesizer is toeing the line of cheesedom, but it's not crossing it, so it sounds cool. Again, with the old-fashioned rock beat. It works well.

  • Track 9: Oh Larsen B
    This one is gonna be a rocker, I think. I like that guitar riff that comes in after a few bars. I thought that verse was going to explode into a chorus, but it tricked me. I still like it. The bass line is solid and simple. Another chorus lighter than you'd expect. One of these times, it's going to explode, damnit. Maybe not, we'll see. Sounds like he's saying "Oh Vaseline, won't you fuck me," but I'm guessing it's "Oh Larsen B, [something or other]." Okay, maybe this solo section is going to build to the explosion I'm expecting. Let's see... It's a nice solo. by the way... building, building... building... building... those tricky bastards. Well, I still liked it.

  • Track 10: The Land Beyond
    For some reason, I just thought of Mott The Hoople and think British Sea Power should cover "All The Young Dudes." But this song doesn't really sound like MTH. Are MTH British? I can't remember. I imagine BSP looking like the cover of All The Young Dudes. I've seen pictures of them, but can't really remember what they look like. This song is okay, but I could see myself skipping it if it came up on shuffle.

  • Track 11: True Adventures
    Strings and thunder? let's beat on the drums and piano. Fine with me. Hey this song is almost eight minutes long, so this could go on a while. Still fine with me. I like this type of noisy beat-on-stuff intro. And the rhythm section settles in with the piano not far behind. The strings are sticking around for the long haul. Vocals are a little less breathy, or maybe there's slightly less reverb. Swelling guitar. This song is just asking for a raised cigarette lighter and swaying back and forth. Oh wait, sounds like the intro again. Noisy. Keep it coming, damnit. Settling in again. Nicely done. Some extra feedback this time around, and rhythm secion is slightly heavier-- just slightly. Hey, was that a seagull that just flew over? British Sea Power, eh? I haven't really been paying close attention to the lyrics-- kind of hard to do while typing. Noisy and intro-like again. Now there are horns. For some reason, I'm thinking of Gilbert & Sullivan. Music drops out and a seagull flies over head. I guess we're back at port?

  • Album is over, so I'm done with live-blogging.

    On first listen, I'd say the main difference from the first album is the lack of a straight up rocker like "Apologies To Insect Life." Maybe I've just missed it due to the distraction of typing, but there doesn't seem to be that same wide dynamic that stretched from a lighter glam sound to the edge of punk. Decline Of... was the type of album that, the first time you heard it, you probably knew right away if you were going to like it a lot. But Open Season seems more like the type that you come to appreciate over time. It reminds me of The Walkmen's Bows + Arrows or Secret Machines' Now Here Is Nowhere-- not as immediately knock-you-on-your-ass to fans of the first album as it probably is readily accessible to those who've never heard them before. At the same time, like those two albums, after listening to it enough, the tragectory from first to second album will probably begin to make more sense and I'll eventually think it's a natural enough evolution.

    In the end, as uncertain as the last paragraph may seem, I enjoyed the album quite a bit and, on first listen, I recommend it. Perhaps I'll check in later with a more advanced opinion after I've had a chance to let it sink in.


    Blogger d said...

    thanks for the wrap up. I saw them on jools holland & was a bit put off by all the costumes & foliage. (they even had girls in pith helmets drinking beer & playing cards on stage?!?) I liked the sound but was at a loss as to why they needed all that stuff. was their first album a concept album?

    11:38 AM, April 08, 2005  
    Anonymous george said...

    I like the concept of live-blogging your response to an album. I gotta try that sometime.

    10:05 PM, April 10, 2005  

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