Remember when I used to write about things other than Big Brother? No? Well here’s one for you BB haters/ indie kids. I downloaded the new Bloc Party album last night and I have to say, expectations were not high. I thought Kele’s solo effort was quite poor (the single was OK – but that’s about it – and I like dance music). I do like Bloc Party’s dance stuff like Flux and The Prayer so I'm not anti-dance at all, I just thought it was quite a weak album and Kele looked a bit ashamed doing it. Or maybe that's just how I felt looking at some of his outfits.
The new album seems very varied, showcasing all their various sides (vocoders, xylophones, loud guitars, whispering) and a couple of tracks are so heavy they’re verging on metal, but I really liked those ones.
So there are a few little chatty bits/ outtakes inbetween; something Bright Eyes and Eminem are both quite fond of, and which are irritating from first listen, but anyway.
The album starts strongly with So He Begins to Lie. There’s quite a nice guitary bit (all technical terms here) at the end, which I think sets the tone quite nicely; a strong start that sets the tone for the album.
3x3 kind of reminds me of a Patrick Wolf song at the start with all the whispering. ‘No one loves you’ seems a bit harsh until he follows it with ‘as much as I.’ Is that grammatically correct? No matter. This is the first one that goes a bit ‘Muse’. He’s kind of yodelling a bit which is quite cool, and it gets quite thrashy. ‘No means no,’ he whispers, and then starts screeching ‘yes’ – it’s a bit sexy, really. I like him screaming! Have we heard him screaming before? Screaming is always good from any artist. This was the first song that made me sit up and think, ‘hmm, this is a bit of a different direction for them.’ And I liked it.
Octopus I’ve obviously already heard and I think it’s one of their kind of ‘cool’ hipster tracks that I’m not sure whether to like or not. Having said that, I love Mercury, and I think it’s in the same sort of vein. It reminds me a bit of One More Chance, but it’s not quite as catchy. More Muse guitars.
Real Talk is a bit Bloc Party by numbers again, and a bit of a comedown after the first three tracks sounding quite fresh and different from each other. At the end of Real Talk there’s some pointless muttering about Kele’s breasts, no idea what's going on there.
Kettling is another song with quite heavy guitars, and feels like a step forward, and except for The Darkness style guitar in the middle, I the general rocky feel of it is exciting, and suits the band well.
Day Four is Bloc Party as you know it, but is quite lovely, a This Modern Love sort of feeling they've recreated many times before, but that is always strangely comforting.
Coliseum is also a weird direction, it has kind of a cowboy/hoedown vibe to it at first and then it goes quite thrashy again. I’m not sure if I like it, but I appreciate the effort.
V.A.L.I.S mentions meth and science at the start so that makes you think of the obvious; Breaking Bad. ‘He is not the real me but I can hear him from the future’ is a cool lyric, too. I really like this one, it’s got a good pace to it.
It goes a bit flat after track 8. Team A is sort of Bloc Party by numbers again, a bit b-sidey and a little bit whiney towards the end (and not in a good way). The next track Truth is more like something off Intimacy, or Weekend..., it has echoes of Signs and I Still Remember and is quite poppy and light. The Healing is a bit dreary and dull. There’s a bit of vaguely interesting falsetto at the end but not enough to get me going.
We are Not Good People picks things back up again, with a bit of a punky feel, but isn’t as appealing as the two rockier tracks at the beginning, it’s a bit more dirgy.
I often find the ‘bonus track’ is the best song on the album – Your visits are getting shorter, for example probably got played in my car more often than any other track on Intimacy (although Ion Square is pretty good on that album, too). The bonus track we get here is called Mean and sounds like a typical Bloc Party song…I feel like I’ve heard it a zillion times before.
So does this album stand up to some of their best work: Two More Years, Blue Light, SRXT – well, not quite. But I do think it’s better than Intimacy, and better than A Weekend in the City, which had moments of lyrical embarrassment at times. They'll never be able to recreate the magic of their first album, but the first one of anything is always the best. I love Kele and the boys and it's good to see them back together, where they belong.