The dreaded third album.
The point where a band runs out of ideas, or manages to eclipse their initial impact. From The Jam's "All Mod Cons" to Radiohead's "OK Computer" the third album is when a band puts up or shuts up, when they claim greatness or shrink back to playing their early hit in toilet venues.
Bloc Party surprised fans and onlookers by revealing on Monday (August 18th) that their new (third!) album "Intimacy" would be released on August 21st - a mere three days later. Co-produced by Paul Epworth and Jacknife Lee, it finds the band more comfortable than ever in their own skin. Capable of recording tracks that nail their initial appeal, whilst also keen to branch out and experiment, Bloc Party have rarely sounded so self assured. Previous single "Mercury" is in good company - some of the tracks on here sound like little else before them, let alone "Silent Alarm".
But this ain't no "Kid A". Bloc Party haven't forgotten how to rock the house, and "Intimacy" has its fair share of potential anthems. Varied yet coherent, commercial yet experimental, here's our track by track guide to one of the most confusing, and downright exciting, albums of the year.
Ares – Opening with siren like guitars and a pounding “Tomorrow Never Knows” style beat, this is a brilliant way to kick off the album. Brutal yet anthemic, this will no doubt go down a storm at festivals as the crowds wave their glow sticks to its ferocious rave beat.
Mercury – The single. Controversial, yet after the previous track this feels like easy listening. Brass flourishes and 100 mph drumming suggest Kevin Rowland being chased down the street by Carl Craig.
Halo – Lightning fast drumming and short, stabbing guitar lines recall the fresh faced urchins who blazed out of the tracks with “Silent Alarm”. With Kele’s vocals deep in the mix it’s difficult to make out the words, as the band continue to play with their trademark sound.
Biko – Bordering on the ambient, the vocals are reduced to a whisper. Electronic drum beats and a synth drone are about all you can hear on a track that borders on the minimal.
Trojan Horse – Abrasive synths hide some filthy lyrics about a passionless relationship. After an electronic opening passage the music gives way to the trademark Bloc Party sound before things get a little noisier with an absolute face melter of a guitar solo.
Signs – Synth strings and glockenspiel glisten under another tender vocal. An album that is strong on ballads – but then, this band have always worn their heart on their sleeves.
One Month Off – New wave inspired monster. Set to take indie dancefloors by storm with its epic power chords and solid beat.
Zephyrus – Another strange song title gives way to 80s style mechanised beats. Early New Order influences are a recurring theme on this album. “Maybe I’m ashamed of the things I put you through” sings Kele, about a relationship gone wrong.
Better Than Heaven – Another track with a distinct lack of guitars. One of their most completely electronic efforts, lyrics include “You need your hands for something else”. Have the band found their kinky side?
Ion Square – Jaunty Gilbert and Sullivan style piano over another ferocious, almost Chicago house style beat. Another ballad, from an album that is strong on mixing 'lighters aloft' sentimentality with raucous noise.