British Sea Power have always been an ambitious band, but never ones to get ahead of themselves - even if they were a massively successful indie-rock institution, you can bet they'd continue to stick by Rough Trade, the label that launched them. The new record marks 10 years since they released their debut, The Decline of British Sea Power, and since then they've held themselves to a high standard. There are many different directions in which they could have taken Machineries of Joy cutting the album down to 10 tracks from 30+, all of which were released on demo EPs last year, but in a way the album seems take a little bit of influence from everything they've done. It still sounds like BSP, but also sounds like something new. They're pushing themselves forward again, but have made sure not to over-think things. The lead single, and title track, kicks things off in grandiose fashion, with the first of many appearances of sweeping strings, as well as an infectious guitar riff. They've always known how to open an album, and 'Machineries of Joy' itself is no different, introducing a record that's been described by the band as 'warm and restorative'.

It certainly is, in places: the gorgeous orchestration and swirling harmonies that form the backbone of 'Hail Holy Queen' mark one of the album's more easy-going moments, but there are bursts of energy scattered throughout as well, with 'K Hole' taking the sound of The Decline... and ramping it up several notches for a fast-paced rock song in which Scott Wilkinson (popularly known as 'Yan') recounts a bad experience with ketamine with breathless intensity, throwing in plenty of whooping and hollering as the song barrels along. Lyrics as surprisingly hedonistic as that appear elsewhere on the album, too; the slow-burning waltz 'What You Need the Most' opens with the immediately arresting couplet, "You were my Pyrex baby, made entirely out of glass / You were at your most beautiful while you were getting smashed." As a whole, the album's focused on layered compositions that allow the lyricism of Yan and (Neil) Hamilton (Wilkinson) to shine through, but there's intensity of a different nature elsewhere on the album, with anti-hunting song 'Loving Animals' sounding slightly unhinged towards the end, the band going all-out in a manner reminiscent of their frantic live shows. That's subject matter some bands wouldn't touch with a 50-foot pole, but BSP manage it in a way that's far more subtle than it would normally be approached.

The same could be said of the album itself. Having experimented with windswept grandeur on Do You Like Rock Music? five years ago, the band have since pared down their sound, and songs like 'K Hole' are the exception, and not the rule. There are definitely some big-sounding songs on the album, though - 'Monsters of Sunderland' is absolutely brilliant, its chorus of, "Elevate me higher, please" fitting in perfectly with the euphoric sound of the track, not to mention the blasts of brass which add a whole new dimension to the song. Trumpets also make an appearance on 'Radio Goddard' (which needs to be a single), the song here which sounds most like a hybrid of old and new, signalling that the sextet are moving into a new phase of their career. They've changed their song-writing habits and made an album that's distantly related to 2005's Open Season, in that it takes a while to fall into place and then fully takes hold. In some way, British Sea Power have always managed to deliver the goods, and Machineries of Joy is no exception, with new things revealing themselves with every listen - at once reliable and familiar, yet fresh and rewarding. Happy anniversary.