February 19, 2016 Bloc Party – Hymns (Album Review)
England based Alternative Rock band Bloc Party has been on the scene since 1999. With a sound that dabbles in Rock, Pop, Dance, as well as Electronic, the band has built an identity full of color and light. Rising to popularity in 2005 upon the reason of their debut album, Silent Alarms, the band also garnered themselves nomination as Best New Artist for the NME Awards, Best Alternative Act at the MTV European Awards, and Best British Band for the NME Awards in 2006. A lot to take in for a young band, Bloc Party continued to outdo in the years to follow, releasing three internationally successful albums in 2007’s A Weekend in the City, 2008’s Intimacy, and 2012’s Four. Entering the studio sometime in March of 2015, the band set out to record what would become their fifth album, Hymns. Joining long-time members Lead Vocals/Guitarist Kele Okereke and Lead Guitarist Russell Lissack, the album is the first to feature new Bassist/Keyboardist Justin Harris as well as Drummer Louise Bartle. Released on January 29th via BMG, Hymns is an album that will have fans turned on immediately.
The album begins with “The Love Within,” and it is a smooth start that spreads positive vibes. Inviting the audience into the journey of eleven songs, the electronic samples in this opening add some pulse to the music. The following song, “Only He Can Heal Me,” starts a cappella and with only a steady beat. Then, the synthesized samples are slowly introduced throughout the song, gaining volume and strength for a interesting build up. A soft and thoughtful track, “So Real” is almost hypnotic with a mix of keys, bass, guitar, and gentle vocals. This smooth and almost meditating sound keeps going with “The Good News,” which features a slight touch of Country music. A change of pace, the track carries its very own spirit and stands out from the rest of Hymns.
Almost religious, “Fortress” introduces a high pitch that the listener did not expect from Okereke. Almost like a choir boy, he leads through this song, confessing, and it is magical. Then, “Different Drugs” comes on as yet another mesmerizing composition. Catchy and open, this song benefits from a somewhat minimalistic approach, proving sometimes less is more. Much more colorful and diverse, “Into The Earth” presents itself almost like a European version of Reggae, and it works surprising well. Thereafter, the cut ”My True Name” is about letting go of the past, finding one’s self, and letting everyone know. Like a snake, peeling off the old skin, Bloc Party express growth through the song’s lyrics.
Moving along, “Virtue” is a funky song that includes quite a message with it. Although, the listener can decide whether to get lost in the melodies or the lyrics, or both, that is open to interruption. A little bit more serious and on the intense end of spectrum, ”Exes” continues on the album with deep lyrics that will no doubt cause many to think. Then, closing out Hymns, strongly, is the track called “Living Lux.” Gathering all strength, this song presents the listener, one last time, a vivid look into what Bloc Party is all about; fascinating melodies and powerful lyrics to get one’s train of thought going.
Perhaps more electronic than their previous work, Hymns is an extremely mellow sound that will have many relax and forget all the negative thoughts that haunt their mind. With the smooth electronic samples and the soft voice of Okereke, Bloc Party have created an album filled with hymns to free one’s soul to. With that said, it is an album that supports the free flow of thoughts and keeps away all the bad vibes and doubts, much like a dreamcatcher. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.