Bloc Party – HymnsCultureMusicAlbum reviews
English indie rock band Bloc Party have been plagued with a turbulent “transfer window” for the last couple of years, seeing the departure of two founding members, Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong. Justin Harris (bass and keyboards) and Louise Bartle (drums) filled the empty seats, and in the process the band said farewell to their old existence and painted a fresh musical façade with their new album, Hymns.
The drastic change in dynamics, style and musical ideas is perhaps not the creative response many Bloc Party enthusiasts were hoping for. Unfortunately, the album’s low point happens to be their headline disco-pop track, The Love Within. The pitch-bended synths, monotonous rhythmic energy and lifeless chorus melody can rub listeners’ ears up the wrong way. Similarly, when the quartet attempts to relive glimpses of their previous indie character in tracks like Into the Earth, the result is lacklustre and forgettable.
Despite the album’s weaknesses, Bloc Party’s desire to tread new sonic territories comes to fruition occasionally, particularly in Different Drugs; its indulgent synth current, pulsating R&B motor and cosmic vocal effects concoct an otherworldly experience like no other song in their repertoire.
Some tracks see the band embrace a more soulful and serene approach, particularly So Real and Fortress. Lead vocalist Kele Okereke croons in a leisurely tone in the former, enriched by an alluring backdrop of silky textures, cool harmonic progressions and arresting riffs, which stir up a feeling of endlessness. Fortress creates a hazy, ambient atmosphere through Okereke’s sensual falsetto vocals, a sullen bass line and luminous synths in the distance. Alongside Different Drugs and the subtle shoegaze undercurrent of Exes, these particular numbers provide the only blinks of interest in this musical journey.
Hymns is the incarnation of Bloc Party’s modernised musical identity, saturating listeners with a mix of vivid electronics and a steady indie rock propulsion. However, this album lacks the peak moment to define the band as an influential force, and their intention to move forward creatively will polarise opinions.
Photo: Rachael Wright
Hymns is released on 29th January, for further information or to pre-order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Different Drugs here: