Since their acclaimed debut album was released a distant seven years ago, British Sea Power have displayed a certain vigour for releasing new music that has been more than admirable. The 2009 Mercury Prize nominees have now released two albums and two EP's in the space of four years, with a new long-player geared to hit shelves in February 2011. It's a rich vein of form that probably evokes as much a sense of toil and achievement on their part as it does a worrying inadequacy on the part of the British bands that have failed to follow suit. When revisiting the group's recent output, it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore the vast scope of their work - and let's be clear - this has not been changing direction for the sake of it, or 'adding strings', this is a varied compendium of music by an impressive and often remarkable band.
And so we come to the 'Zeus EP', a new seven track record that begins with the raucous title track, featuring the opening lines, "Rick Stein please to meet you, I'm sorry for being so rude, I just didn't know that you were so famous for your food". Blitzy guitars and rousing chants follow in what is familiar but welcomed territory. Elsewhere, there's the absorbing reverie 'Cleaning Out The Rooms' with its whaling backing vocals, military drums, and impressive vocal track from Hamilton, the more subdued of the band's two switching front-men. The song's gentle piano outro is hastily interrupted by the visceral 'Can We Do It? With the maniacal screams of its musing title and the galloping snare, this punchy two-and-a-half minute thrash will no-doubt become an immediate live staple, perhaps a set opener.
If, then, the EP is cast aside when the band's new long player 'Valhalla Dancehall' is released in a few months time, it will invariably be revisited from time-to-time for 'Bear', a song that will tick all the boxes for fans of the band. Its restrained verses allow for the group's often understated lyrics to rise to the fore. Witty pop culture ponderings such as "I saw you reading the Daily Star, I saw you watching the X-Factor, and I was wondering, how could you fall so far?", sit delicately alongside impassioned apologies, "I'm so sorry angel, Oh sorry little girl, So sorry angel, It's a cruel world" .
Issues concerning the unnecessary length of certain tracks on the record are valid, but on the whole, largely irrelevant. British Sea Power have made an EP that acts as an interesting and experimental precursor to a much-anticipated fifth studio album.