British Sea Power's determination to equal Spinal Tap's achievement of playing "the world and elsewhere" has seen them unpack the flight cases inside the Arctic Circle and on the Great Wall of China. With this album they deserve the chance to put a few more exotic locations on the tour schedule. And having reworked a new soundtrack for the seminal documentary 'Man of Aran' in 2009, a weekend of these songs down on Inis Mór sounds like an adventure that would even be worth a solo trip over and back in a row boat to witness.
From race-to-the-finish rockers to dreamy, show-stopping ballads, 'Valhalla Dancehall' sounds like the work of a band that decided to make two different records, had a change of heart and rolled them into one. There are mood swings galore, but while the sequencing could have been stronger (eg the 11-minute 'Once More Now' should have been the last, and not the second last, track) and 13 songs may be three too many, the pile of treats after an hour is as subjective as it is substantial, and the odds on another Mercury nomination seem very short.
If everything else in 2011 delivers half as much we'll be doing well.