My Top 20 Songs of 2011 #17: British Sea Power – ‘Who’s In Control’

Sometimes, I wish, protesting was sexy on a Saturday night“. Given what happened over the proceeding 11 months, this was either the least or the most perspicacious statement of the year. Whatever it was, the song this line came from was a hell of a statement to kick off BSP’s album.

BSP have always furrowed an esoteric niche, making intelligent, interesting, subtle music (they’re probably the only band ever to write a love song for an Antarctic ice-shelf). They have always seemed to present their politics in a more abstract way, but current conditions seem to have pushed their convictions to the for, because this song is as immediate a song as they’ve penned. For me, it soundtracked a year in which the grim spectre of cold economic theory hung like the sword of Damocles over the British welfare system.

Sonically, it isn’t the most interesting song on the album and the lyrics are about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but as a statement of intent it packs a real punch: “Oh, were you not told? Did you not know? Everything around you is being sold.” I’m not sure protesting on a Saturday night will ever be “sexy”, but nor will leaping around a sweaty dancefloor to music made by white dudes with guitars (much to the chagrin of my teenage self) and yet, for better or worse, with songs like this around, both will continue for a few years yet.

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