Thursday, August 28, 2008

Album Review: Bloc Party - Intimacy

I can still remember when I first listened to Bloc Party's major release "Silent Arm." The first track "Like Eating Glass" with it's indie guitar sound and hard drum lines blew me away. I was an instant fan.

Their second release "A Weekend in the City" did not have the same immediate effect but I grew to love tracks "Hunting For Witches" "The Prayer" and "Where is Home?" I noticed that the band was leaning to a more electronic sound. The release of "Flux" which consists of the title track "Flux" and several electronic remixes confirmed to me that Bloc Party was heading in this direction.

It came as no surprise during my first listen of "Intimacy" that the album was chalk full of experimental electronic and big beat music. It is almost entirely absent of the indie guitars and hard drum lines that initially won me over on "Silent Alarm."

While I was not surprised I was certainly disappointed. It is not that I prefer the indie sound of "Silent Alarm" over electronic music. My disappointment is that I just don't feel that Bloc Party is in their true element with the big beat sound. Kele Okereke's vocals that sound similar to "The Talking Heads" does not fit with the music. And I have to ask what the other three members of the band are doing when the music behind the vocals is almost entirely electronic and absent of guitar, drums (that aren't synth) and bass.

A review by musicomh.com captures my feelings on the album -

"Elsewhere, the electronic stylings that have been unveiled in singles Flux and Mercury fail to disguise poor lyrics and limited themes, such as the unartful dissection of a failing relationship of Trojan Horse ("you used to take your watch off before we made love"), the literally hackneyed dissection of a failing relationship of One Month Off ("when we started this it was paradise, not Bethnal Green"), or the pretentious attempts at obscure depth of Mercury or Zephyrus."
And another review at Pitchfork.com also questions where the rhythm section is at -

"Where "Like Eating Glass" and "Pioneers" steadily built towards barely controlled chaos with unpredictability and positive tension, "Ares" engages in all-out sonic warfare: Russell Lissack's guitar blares like a air raid siren, Okereke's vocals gets processed into Cheez Whiz, and if the rhythm section was in the studio at any point during the recording, you'd need surveillance videos to prove it. The same goes for the garish lead single "Mercury", which at least sticks due to the nagging repetition of its pie-eyed hook."

Bloc Party has not lost my admiration and I still consider myself a fan but I hope that they can find a way to return to their roots.


5 comments:

Rhodri Brady said...

Why do you judge the album purely on their previous work? If you treat it as a series of songs, it shouldn't matter to you what the various members of the band are up to, or what work they had previously brought out.
It's fair to consider these things, but it seems that it is the crux of your review!?

The Captain said...

My feeling is that Bloc Party sounded more genuine on "Silent Alarm" and "A Weekend in the City." They just don't sound comfortable with the big beat sound on "Intimacy." If I were to to discount their two previous albums and base my review solely on this release I would still give it an F. I don't have anything against electronic music, and have no problem with Bloc Party moving in that direction - if it sounded geniune and was good music. My opinion is that it does not sound geniune and is not good electronic music on its own merit.

Allan said...

Hmm to review this album or not. From your review though I definitely don't feel like it heh.

Aidan & Muru said...

Hey guy, or girl, i'm sorry forgot to check...
but i found you review by accident. Altho your review may of been harsh but true.
I wasn't a fan of the first release of the album "Intimacy".
But i didn't want to judge it on just one track.
I was just wondering how do you get advanced copies/files of such albums like bands.
Are they out there, on the usual file sharing sites?
Cos, i know i can get like "R'n'B & Hip Hop" albums. but haven't found many bands.
Would Be nice if i got response.
i know this blog post was sorta old...

The Captain said...

Hey there,

I do not advocate file sharing sites as the files they share may be illegal and contain viruses. If you really like the music you should buy it. Or if you just like a few tracks purchase the tracks on iTunes.