British Sea Power

Machineries of Joy

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A nod to author Ray Bradbury's 1964 short story collection of the same name, British Sea Power's sixth long-player, the measured and oddly comforting Machineries of Joy, finds the bookish, self-mythologizing, and willfully nostalgic yet remarkably buoyant indie rockers doing what they do best: being British Sea Power. Less immediate than 2008’s Do You Like Rock Music? and more in tune with the bands’ pioneer spirit than 2011’s Valhalla Dancehall, Machineries of Joy, as is the case with any BSP album, requires more than a cursory spin to reveal its riches. It all feels so very familiar that even the most immediate cuts, like the twisted, shape-shifting "Loving Animals," the Now I'm a Cowboy-era Auteurs-inspired "Radio Goddard," and the manic "K Hole" -- the latter hearkens back to the post-punk fervor of the band's stellar 2003 debut, The Decline of British Sea Power -- feel like they've been knocking around the BSP universe for ages waiting for the skies to clear and allow them access to the mainland. That said, it's an environment that rewards more often than it disappoints, with highlights arriving via the wily, dub-tinged "Monsters of Sunderland," the tastefully melodramatic "What You Need the Most" (the band's first official torch ballad), the dissonant, funereal closer "When a Warm Wind Blows Through the Grass," and the propulsive, life-affirming title track, all of which occupy the same head space as many of the late author's stories, constantly searching for the sweet spot between magic and melancholy.

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