Thursday, September 18

Bloc Party- 'Intimacy'

. Thursday, September 18

Bloc Party

Bloc Party have always been a band tied between idealisation and actualisation. Since the release of their debut album ‘Silent Alarm’ in 2005 Bloc Party have become a marquee name alongside contemporaries like Kings of Leon, The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs (Though festival headline slots still elude them). However it appears that they would far rather be mentioned in breaths including TV On The Radio, LCD Soundsystem and other such musical pioneers. A second album of moaning fashionista baiting was met with muted critical response and whilst some fans argue it, ‘A Weekend In The City’ was a pale imitator to its predecessors decade defining brilliance.

Undeterred by the whispers and murmurs Kele and co began to shake things up. First came ‘Flux’, a song that shocked and appalled many on first glances. Euro dance beats not heard since late 90’s Dave Pearce Radio 1 shows bump and grinded away under a series of vocal loops and tricks leaving the listener wondering where the simpler times of ‘Helicopter’ went. Message board rumours of Bloc Party doing a ‘Kid A’ on album number 3 and abandoning their post punk style Gang Of Four leanings all together to embrace a dance orientated sound coupled with sonic experimentation. Thus bringing us to ‘Intimacy’ Bloc Party’s third and possibly career defining record.

The ‘Kid A’ comparisons are at no point apparent however ‘Intimacy’ does follow Radiohead in it’s technological embracing ways. The album was announced to fans in a webchat and released at limited notice for fans to download the first 10 tracks for a fee of just £5. Whilst not quite the ‘pay what you want’ policy of Thom Yorke it certainly made people sit up and pay attention to the new album (Whilst cleverly avoiding the A-List album scrum of October).

The day of the ‘Intimacy’ announcement also saw the band preview the first single from it, ‘Mercury’, also knows as the moment Bloc Party went mental. Blogs, fan sites and peoples ears exploded. Tribal drums crashed triumphantly out the speakers, horns were introduced for the first time and Kele’s vocals jumped and flipped around like a fish out of water. If Bloc Party wanted to get peoples attentions this was the way to do it. Now instead of the potential of a boring indie bands boring third album we had the prospect of either an amazing transformation or one of the biggest bands in the country falling flat on their aspirational faces.

‘Intimacy’ is not quite the headfuck many predicted, it is however ten times more innovative, intriguing and exciting than many would have Bloc Party down as. The guitars have a drive and determination like never before, the drums sound big and bold whilst the vocals, still noticeably Bloc Party, sound more urgent and energetic than on previous efforts. In short this is Bloc Party 2.0, forget about the previous regime because this is a band going places. ‘Ares’ opens things up with wall climbing guitars clashing frantically with massive compressed drums and Keles yelps about war and rude bois, it’s the perfect introduction to the album in that it introduces the bands new fondness for abrasion whilst not forgetting their roots. It’s important to mention that nobody believes Bloc Party used to sound like Starsailor, it’s just impressive to see a band taking risks and innovating as they mature.

Like the bands previous two efforts the songs are very much split between fast paced stompers and the twinkling flame wavers. ‘Halo’, ‘Trojan Horse’ and ‘One Month Off’ fit into the earlier of these groups whilst ‘Biko’ and ‘Signs’ rival ‘Silent Alarms’ ‘This Modern Love’ for the sweetest Bloc Party song yet. Whilst prior ground is being tread here what makes ‘Intimacy’ so impressive is the confidence and intricacies that go alongside the tracks. Hear the strings soar with the vocals on ‘Signs’, the dub beats and choral chants on ‘Zephyrus’ and epic end to ‘Ion Square’ for evidence that Bloc Party are no longer “Just a band” as Scroobius Pip once said.

One imagines that Bloc Party’s fondness for a catchy riff and sing along choruses will always be what holds them back from truly embracing their experimental side. However in terms of the band marrying their ambitions and ideas with their abilities and traditions ‘Intimacy’ is a bold step forward that puts them a good distance away from the plodding and bloated names they emerged with and more than a few steps towards the names they truly admire.




Connell said...

It's a good album but, as you say, it seems a little restrained. When I first heard Mercury I was strangely excited, I didn't like it much at first but it really REALLY grew on me. Talons, although it was more conventional than Mercury, only made me more excited. Then when I put the album on and listened Ares I peaked! Unfortunately so did the album. The rest of it is as bland as frozen fish and chips without any tartar sauce.

More, More, MORE! decent adventurous songs please Bloc Party. Stop clinging on to the remnants of Silent Alarm, if 17 year old kids think you're new albums shit then sod them, their loss.

Where would we have been if The Beatles had churned out 10 albums of Please Please Me's or if Radiohead had just settled on playing Creep for a decade?

Why won't any of our generations' bands push the envelope? If I want to listen to Silent Alarm I will put it on thank you very much, you don't need to make me a new one.

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