High expectations are hard to live up to.
After the success of their first album, Silent Alarm, Bloc Party struggled through good but not great reviews for their sophomore try, A Weekend in the City.
Many missed post-punk hits à la “Banquet” and “Helicopter” which were replaced by the softer sounds found on cuts like “SXRT.”
That’s why it came as a surprise 18 months later when the band pulled a Radiohead, announcing the release in of its third album, Intimacy, on Aug. 21 in the MP3 file format.
Kele Okereke and company flex their Guitar Hero riffs and lyrical genius while experimenting with electronic and Big Beat elements this time around.
As a conceptual album, Okereke leaves politics and everyday life in East London behind to focus on a past relationship and all its stages through sometimes surprising references.
For example, the band alludes to mythology often, as in “Trojan Horse” – a song that works with lines such as “You used to take your watch off before we made love/You didn’t want to share our time with anyone.”
Album opener “Ares” misses with its experimental fashion and chants of “War, war, war war/I want to declare war.” Okereke’s voice ends up sounding like loud noise instead of its usual unique self.
The album’s best and most somber songs are easily “Biko,” “Signs” and “Ion Square,” which deal with loss and death in music box-like fashion thanks to the use of glockenspiels.
“Halo” and “One Month Off” speak of lust and its loss over time in the band’s signature punk form.
Singles “Flux” and “Mercury” do take some getting used to, but they’re the most danceable tracks and are fun to listen to in the car.
It’s the best of both Bloc Party worlds on Intimacy, which can never be a bad thing.
Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars