Ordinarily, a group five albums into a career without a hit would be well on the downward trajectory but British Sea Power creep slowly higher. The Brighton-based band are today a healthy cult sounding strong on their current Machineries of Joy album, and boasting the best merchandise stand in the business — from mugs saying “British Tea Power” to shopping bags that read “Band for Life”.
Their eccentricities make these bird-lovers hard to pigeonhole. Are they our Flaming Lips, decorating last night’s stage with fairy light foliage and giant dancing bears? Perhaps they’re our Arcade Fire, the massed vocals of Great Skua swelling the heart over stunning nature footage. Or another Elbow, just missing one truly great song and a bit more warmth from surname-free singer Yan to reveal them to the nation as treasures.
Though Abi Fry’s viola and Phil Sumner’s cornet added texture, the sextet sounded strongest when their guitars weaved and danced, as on new song Spring has Sprung. The new album’s title track was magnificent, while another fresh one, K Hole, ditched the cleverness for raw punk pleasure.
Two bears fought and the trees twinkled but it was the music that confirmed this is a band still rising.