Fair warning: the Brighton-based quartet British Sea Power set sail with a heavy load of affectations. They have no surnames, and the first names they go by--Yan, Hamilton, Wood, and Noble--are less than reassuring. Sometimes they wear woolen military coats onstage. Their debut release, The Decline of British Sea Power (Rough Trade), has the word "classic" stamped right on the cover. But however off-putting the gimmicks are, their music is in the right place: on the visceral, hook-driven end of the Britpop spectrum. The album gets under way with "Apologies to Insect Life," a spiky punk-blues powered by outsize waves of guitar noise and punctuated by singer Yan's tormented yelp, and hits its climax with "Lately," a 13-minute feedback-driven freak-out. Several tracks are undisguised paeans to the band's musical heroes: "Remember Me" is to the Jam as "Fear of Drowning" is to Echo & the Bunnymen as "Blackout" is to the Smiths. Having added a fifth member--one Eamon--to their live show, British Sea Power's way with hooks made them a perfect opener for the Strokes in England last year; their affinity for psychedelia got them the same job with the Flaming Lips. All affected bands should be so versatile. Kaito opens. Friday, March 5, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Lum.