[REVIEW] Bloc Party – Hymns

By Haydn Jeavons - Reporter

Bloc Party performing in 2012

Bloc Party are back with their brand new album, Hymns, and fans have been praying that the band’s fifth record will live up to their expectations.

Let me save you some time: it doesn’t live up to those expectations.

A hallmark of Bloc Party’s work is that each of their albums has a distinctive sound.

Their first album, Silent Alarm, featured hard-hitting guitar riffs and drumming so fast that it defied physics.

Since then, they’ve become more experimental and incorporated more electronic sounds to their music as they’ve progressed.

By the time Bloc Party released their third album, Intimacy, they were a world away from Silent Alarm, but still with much love from their fans.

After the release of Intimacy, the band went on a hiatus and pursued different things.

Kele released a solo album, and it then became clear why Bloc Party took a break; The Boxer was full of electronic and house vibes.

It appeared that he wanted to move away from the Indie/Rock roots where the band had started.

There were signs with their fourth album – imaginatively titled Four – that they were heading back to their roots.

I would go as far as to say it was Bloc Party’s best release since their debut album.

But Hymns feels more like a step backwards than a progression for the band.

With the departures of bass player Gordon Moakes and drummer Matt Tong, it always appeared that things wouldn’t be the same.

Some of the songs feature elements associated with Bloc Party’s sound, but others (namely “The Love Within”, “Only He Can Hear Me” and “So Real”) would be unrecognisable if it weren’t for the vocals of lead singer Kele Okereke.

Maybe I’m getting too caught up in how things used to be. Like someone recently dumped, wondering why my partner has changed, I’m stuck in the past.

Bloc Party aren’t the same band they were. As a long time fan, it’s hard to accept.

Hymns isn’t nearly as terrible as I’m making out. Take out the first three tracks and it’s actually quite good.

It doesn’t live up to the highs of their last four albums but, lyrically, Kele and Russell haven’t lost it.

There’s just a sense that this is a different Bloc Party from before, and not one that I – as a long time fan – am entirely comfortable with.

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