British Sea Power's Krankenhaus? couldn't come at a better time. We've missed the quirky British quartet for a while now and were delighted to hear that the guys planned not just one, but two releases so close together. Since we have to wait until February for their Do You Like Rock Music? LP, Krankenhaus? definitely tides us over.
Starting off with the upbeat "Atom," the band punches the listener in the face with a heart pumping rollercoaster ride of a song. The roaring "Ohhhhs" that chug the chorus along only help matters. Think the balls of Black Francis's work mixed with the hugeness of an Arcade Fire song. "Down On The Ground" keeps us interested, adding more layers and shimmery guitars to the mix than on the first track. At times it's a bit shoegazer, when understated vocals are melded into the instrumentation, something that is a little different from most of their past work.
The surprise on Krankenhaus? is "Straight Down The Line." It's not a typical British Sea Power pop jam, and if we didn't know better, we wouldn't think that the band penned it. Not that its bad, but its super mellow, and the vocals at times come across as lazy and muddled. Rather than singing they are just kind of thrown out there in a whispering tone leaving the music to carry the tune. British Sea Power is also known for their eccentric conceptual work, and if that's more your cup of tea then this track is for you.
"Hearing Aid" is a lot like the previous track, but at least it comes to stride about a minute in. It's a shame that it is just shy of two minutes, because it would be nice to hear this one develop more.
The British Sea Power that most of us love returns to true to form on "The Pelican - Parts 1 & 2," boasting full electric guitars and sounding a bit Velvet Underground meets Joy Division. Lasting a little over nine minutes, we have to imagine this is the one you want to see live when they come to a town near you. After what we know from their previous shows, this song must end with destruction and exhaustion. At least that's how we feel after listening to it.