Bloc Party – Hymns Review

Bloc Party are open to many sports analogies at the moment of a team in transition. They are Manchester United after Alex Ferguson or the McLaren F1 team after Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. They’re trying new things with new methods after their glory days and are uncertain of the future. The Indie revival of 2005 is long dead and buried and arguably Bloc Party were the true essence of it; the Pulp to Arctic Monkeys’ Oasis if you will. The fact is that fans of Ratboy (who accompanied Bloc Party on the NME Tour) could barely talk when their debut Silent Alarm was released in 2004 as the Independent pointed out. Ratboy himself was Jordan Cardy: the eight year old primary school kid. Cardy is the symbol of everything that went wrong with that Indie revival and why the term ‘Indie’ is linked to the popular insult of ‘Hipster’. Kele Okereke jumped that ship long ago, but with Bloc Party they are yet to set a new course. Half the band has changed and with it their sound too, but is it enough to redefine them and give them a new purpose?

Many have likened ‘The Love Within’ it to a Christmas Carol and a song from the imagination of a child, but with it’s heavy, splurging synths and monotonous beats I feel like someone head-banging a keyboard is a more apt description of this bizarre track with it’s simplistic melodies and messy structure. The only saving grace for this track is the grown-up chorus which marks the only point in the song where the sounds make sense in a rising progression and is almost a completely different song, but this is too short-lived to save this random track. ‘The Good News’ is a vastly different track which verges more a blues track with an alternative fringes. It has a steady, stomping beat and a rumbling riff that leads into feather-light piano chords. This progression is simply the lead into the ‘bluesey’ section of the track with resonator guitars to accompany that stomping beat. It is a decent track from which the standout is Kele’s seamless vocal performance which continues to develop brilliantly and this track is evidence of it. ‘Virtue’ moves back into the fields of electronica with splurging synth blasts accompany a polished rock set up. These fall away into sparseness with Kele’s soft melodies joined only by a more sweeping piece of electronica and this feeds back into a dance beat and the standard guitar, bass and percussion instrumentation. The song has a keen rhythmic hook and manages the transitions within it smoothly to make for one of the highlights of the album.

‘So Real’ is a minimalistic track that relies with smooth melodies and harmonies and soft edged instrumentation bar a metallic riff that rattles through the organ-like electronica. A soft and safe track here. ‘Only He Can Heal Me’ begins in an intriguing fashion with the vocal instrumentation and trip hop instrumentation behind it. Though the production is neat, the hammering electronica it accommodates does little to help the track and this is a common theme with the album as a whole. ‘Living Lux has a terminal problem with this as the track never settles on a rhythm. It is a waste of the production and of Kele’s vocals. Other track’s are verging on decent Indie filler with some showing flashes of intrigue such as ‘Different Drugs’. The album has many tracks rigidly opposed to each other resulting in no flow and parts of the album suffer from unimaginative electronica, over-production or simply a lack of direction. I’m sure once Bloc Party finds their way they will just a prominent and attention grabbing as before, but only brief flashes of those qualities are on show here.

Bloc Party – Hymns = 6/10



Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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