Bolt from the blue

Just ahead of early 2011’s Valhalla Dancehall, British Sea Power released the Zeus EP. A deliberately experimental eight-track album, it’s very hit and miss, with songs like Pardon My Friends and Can We Do It? being too bad to be instantly forgettable (an outcome exacerbated by the latter failing to deliver on its suggestion of Bob the Builder-themed rocking out). However, there is enough sparkle and magic to keep me coming back for more.
KW-H’s take on glam rock-stompery is enjoyable, and faintly reminiscent of Super Furry Animals (and it concerns electricity, of which the means of production is obviously a minor obsession of mine), but better still is the opening title track.
Zeus, with its near-chaotic percussion and shimmering guitars, begins with a greeting to Rick Stein, and goes on to invite Nikita Kruschev, Worzel Gummage and Aunt Sally to a bizarre take on the fantasy dinner party (“your bathroom is delightful and your party is great”). As with so many of BSP’s more memorable moments, the lyrics are abstract without (quite) being incomprehensible, Yan desperate to find out “what’s your maximum?” over an insistent, pounding, soar-away climax to the song.
Bear, meanwhile, is the stand-out track. Fragile and beautiful in comparison with most of the rest of the album, Yan contemplates a failed relationship, offering apologies for life’s cruelties, and recognises that his angel was “only waiting for the world to catch you up”. Despite the obvious tenderness to the lyrics, contempt for the modern way of life isn’t too far away:
Saw you reading the Daily Star
Saw you watching X-Factor
And I was wondering
How could you fall so far?
The second half brings in ethereal electronica (a pre-cursor to Valhalla Dancehall’s Living Is So Easy) and adds new depth to the song in its conclusion. This is a touching, delicate track, and its placement in the middle of a testing ground is frankly a waste: this should have been one of the centrepieces of Valhalla Dancehall. They just won’t be told, these music-types, will they?


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