For 10 years British Sea Power have balanced a yearning for epic scale with a very British interest in underdogs and eccentrics. The title track of their new album sums up these twin impulses. Relentless drums and expansive guitars summon us once more unto the breach; meanwhile singer Scott Wilkinson likens homo sapiens to “a hobbyist of deranged proportion”, a “machinery of joy” (the phrase is taken from sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury) whom mortality dooms to breakdown (“the wait is yours and we’ve failed again”). There are times when the contrasting dynamics cancel each other out and result in stodgy fare like “K Hole”, the sound neither of magnificent striving nor glorious failure but rather workaday indie rock. But the ingredients come together more often than not on Machineries of Joy, as epitomised by the elegiac pastoral rock of “A Light Above Descending”.

British Sea Power

Machineries of Joy

(Rough Trade)

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