by Leah Warshaw
British Sea Power's last album, Open Season, benefited from brevity and focus. Between its wintry feel and frontman Yan's melancholy-tinged lyrics, this was pop music that celebrated looking out your window and contemplating the meaning of life. By comparison, Do You Like Rock Music? — the band's third album — is the sound of hurtling down the freeway at 80 m.p.h. on one of those nights when having a destination is the only reason you need.
Filled with strings, echoes, various kinds of noise, and backup vocals that at times include full-on chanting, this album has a much more expansive sound than either of their previous efforts. It's not a complete departure, since the songs still feature Yan's distinctive, almost sighing vocals. But rather than taking the lead, as his vocals tended to on Open Season, this time it's the driving drumbeat and guitar hooks at the forefront. With so many new elements, the whole thing could fall apart, but the album never loses its focus. You can tell this band has eight years together, enough time to know what they do best and where to experiment.
The songs range from the epic rock of "No Lucifer" and "Waving Flags" to quieter and more introspective. Most explore themes of evil, death and the apocalypse. "Atom," which also heads up their Krankenhaus? EP, leads with the proclamation: "I'll be the first to admit this is a bright but haunted age." In the end, though, you get the impression that British Sea Power is more interested in the brightness than the haunting. In a world with so many problems, sometimes listening to good rock 'n' roll is enough.
British Sea Power play Tuesday, March 25 at the Eagle Theatre, 15 S. Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333. With the 1900s and Great Lakes Myth Society.