Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Party On

Simon Harrington Ponders Bloc Party

As I write I am looking at the stub of a ticket clumsily stuck to my wall entitled ‘SJM CONCERTS PRESENT BLOC PARTY’. This ticket is from 29th October 2005 and marked an end to Bloc Party’s triumphant UK tour supporting the release of their first album ‘Silent Alarm’, I was not disappointed with the performance I saw in 2005 and with the release of new album ‘Intimacy’ I am not disappointed now.

The album incorporates some of the musical traits that we immediately link with Bloc Party, at the same time we hear a new and more creative element resonating in their music. Their individual sound has been maintained and is never compromised by their willingness to manipulate different vocal and musical styles. In ‘Intimacy’ we still hear the driving bass lines and lyrical complexity that we have come to expect from the band, the opening track ‘Ares’ sets the bench mark for the remainder of the album. The song hits us with an immediate energy, a powerful and cutting guitar riff is the setting for the chanting lyrics ‘War, war, war, war’. Since Bloc Party began they have attempted to make a potent statement through their lyrics, they have achieved this in their two previous albums and do not fail to do so again with ‘Intimacy’.

There is consistent reference to the expected topics of love and War. ‘Trojan Horse’ establishes the vivid image of a lover reminiscing about what has been lost; in this song Bloc Party combine borderline intrusive lyrics with deliberate composition in order to express something that the listener can relate to. The sensitive lyrics of ‘Trojan Horse’ are contrasted elsewhere on the album by the seemingly punk inspired, full sounding ‘Halo’. From a first listen the powerful chord structure seems reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age, the song bounds along at an eager and excitable pace, manipulating well timed breaks and diverse drumming to give ‘Halo’ unique and energetic musical traits that encapsulate Bloc Party’s intimate live sound perfectly.

‘Intimacy’ includes the cleverly marketed single ‘Mercury’, released after track ‘Flux’ it marked a new era for the sound of Bloc Party. The band has moved in a direction that appears to have been inspired by an electro sound, this inspiration can be heard throughout ‘Intimacy’ with tracks such as ‘Talons’ using a synthesizer alongside more traditional rock instruments. Although the band has come under some criticism for moving in a new musical direction it is refreshing to see that at least one artist out there is attempting to venture from their comfort zone and try something different. The album climaxes with the song ‘Ion Square’, an artistic song based on elements of the poem ‘I carry your heart with me’ by E.E. Cummings, this final track has a focus on lyrical simplicity, and brings the older Bloc Party sound together with the new.

In my opinion this album marks the change of Bloc Party into a more mature and diverse band both lyrically and instrumentally, they have developed a more full bodied sound that has been delicately and deliberately composed with well timed breaks and punchy, memorable chorus’. To end my review and express myself in the lyrics Bloc Party, their new album ‘Intimacy’ ‘breaks your porcelain nose’.

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