thu 08/12/2022

Album: Sea Power - Everything Was Forever | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Sea Power - Everything Was Forever

Album: Sea Power - Everything Was Forever

The former British Sea Power lose more than a word, in a bittersweet, pounding requiem

The former British Sea Power’s seventh album draws on deep reserves of melancholy and ecstasy. Several songs sound like elegies for Yan and Neil Wilkinson’s recently deceased parents. The band’s emotional heart – sometimes missed beneath the perceived eccentricities of their semi-pagan, mythos-building stage-show – beats hard, even as songs reliably surge with pop power.

Losing “British” from their name seems sad, when BSP’s wryly nostalgic intent seemed so clear; it feels like a defeat by nationalism, but is of course the band’s considered, moral choice, as fascism again stokes patriotic fires. It’s anyway dwarfed by the loss of beloved family, internationalist bonds and precious time since their last album in 2017. The pandemic is never mentioned, but Everything Was Forever works as a sometimes angry requiem.

Opener “Scaring At the Sky” begins with an opiated vocal stretch like a cat waking up, before solidifying over riverine folk-rock. Yan drifts through summery, lysergic thickets in aching reverie, singing of continually “going back…like a cracked record”. “Lakeland Echo” sounds more specific wells of memory as, with a hazy hiss like Scritti Politti’s Green, he murmurs: “Turn the tape…on/That’s a grand track…that’s a good one.” The Wilkinsons’ titular local newspaper (now itself a memory), which they recall delivering here, also suggests a watery haunting. Then the singer makes the bed. As Yan told The Guardian, his parents’ deaths sent him tumbling back into “first memories, why I am here.” The song is a dream woven from formative threads.

Disaffection and dismay stalk this record, too. “Doppelganger” has Magazine melodrama and Dr. Phibes Gothic vibes, but its horror allusions are dwarfed by “Fear Eats The Soul”, whose shivering vocal and acoustic guitar recount curfews and claws, unwanted tests and trouble. Grenfell – as “fire engines come, try to put me out” - and fascism’s modern guises chill this song’s bones. “Folly” begins as a protest song for the right to roam, from a band now scattered from the South Downs to Skye, and ends in apocalyptic mood for Great Britain’s “weird rock”. The music is propulsively joyous, the pounding, synth-skirling “Green Goddess” more so, hymning love and nature over capitalism and power. Sea Power’s pop craft peerlessly absorbs ‘80s grandeur (the Bunnymen, say), its dynamics and emotion streamlined, readorned and propelled into the future.

“Two Fingers” (a favourite gesture of dad Ronald Wilkinson) hammers out exultant uplift over gnomic words, while electric guitar carves lightning lines across the sky in more bittersweet, heady bliss. “Two fingers for the dead, two fingers for the living,” they add, “Two fingers for the world that we all live in.” From death, wearying separation and sickness felt in every line, Everything Was Forever demands transformative rebirth. The band have never sounded sadder, or more defiantly steeped in what makes their world worth living.

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