Contrary to popular (or actually, unpopular) belief, British Sea Power doesn’t sound that much like U2, circa 2000 or otherwise. At best, “Atom,” with its muscular riffs and sweaty shout of a chorus, does echo some of the forward momentum of “Beautiful Day.” But it sounds even more like the Arcade Fire’s “Tunnels,” and the rest of the band’s fantastic new album Do You Like Rock Music? also seems to beg another question: Do You Still Like Funeral? BSP and AF share a lot musically: chiefly, a sense of drama scaled to epic heights by group chants and the sheer density of reverb. Sung without British accents, “Waving Flags” (an Arcade Fire title if there ever was one) could slip seamlessly onto Neon Bible… and be a standout track.
Not-actually-pretentious title aside (I’ll get to that in a minute), the album’s flaws are minor. The sound is at times bigger than the songs, a weakness of the Arcade Fire’s as well — U2’s best tracks earned their epic nature through charisma and intensity, not (just) through fist-pumping stadium cheers. There’s some filler — I can’t remember a word of “A Trip Out,” and the album sure doesn’t gain much in ending with “We Close Our Eyes,” an eight-minute repeat of its opening track, but the pair of ballads that precede it sparkle with astral post-Britpop beauty – displays of subtlety in an album full of fireworks. The title, then, is less a cocky wink at implied self-worth than it is a legitimate, almost humble question: a taste for rock songs this soaring and polished sometimes seems in short supply these days, but those on the hunt need look no further.
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