The apparent simplicity of the query in the title of British Sea Power's third album masks a deceptively complex value system, one in which not all that is ostensibly "rock" actually rocks. Indeed, in some examples suggested by the band themselves, that which rocks need not even be music at all, the term being applied more as a guide to attitude, rather than style. As ever with this most singular of modern British bands, things are less straightforward than they first appear. But who would deny the need for a new definition that might exclude the likes of Keane, Coldplay and The Kooks from rock music?
One major difference between this and BSP's previous albums is that for the first time, they're not all at sea: Do You Like Rock Music? is earthbound, quite literally in songs like "Down on the Ground" and "Atom". Where once they would have employed a nautical metaphor to convey emotional uncertainty, the latter uses quantum physics instead: "When you get down to the subatomic part of it, that's when it breaks you know, that's when it falls apart". But it's not just emotions that they sense are falling apart: the punky "A Trip Out" finds the band musing upon "one fine day before the apocalypse", while both "No Need To Cry" and "Open the Door" feature reflections upon life and mortality. "It takes something to be a man these days," they claim in the latter. "Nobody's scared but we hide anyway."
The album could be seen as the band's attempt to counter this creeping dissolution, by extolling an inclusive sense of camaraderie: the opening "All In It" is basically just a chant of "We're all in it and we close our eyes". And BSP's idea of "all" extends to the Eastern European immigrants welcomed "from across the Vistula" in "Waving Flags".
There's a doughty recognition of Britishness in "No Lucifer", a song that draws together references to Raleigh bicycles, roe deer, the Second World War and the wrestler Big Daddy as it considers this most stubborn of island states: "Several Lucifers come, and we can beat them all". As with several tracks here, the music builds implacably throughout the song, an impending tidal wave of dense, looming sound that brings to mind Arcade Fire – if that's not putting the cart before the horse, in terms of influence. Elsewhere, the light-pollution protest "Lights Out For Darker Skies" employs the bustling drive and strident guitars favoured by Arctic Monkeys, while "Canvey Island" draws on the area's 1953 flood disaster as an allegory of tragedies to come.
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