Album Review: Bloc Party – Hymns


If there was a perfect example of a band who have really stripped back the layers to reveal a core of vast emotion, then this is it. A reconstruction within their ranks, with the acquisitions of drummer Louise Bartle (note she was recruited after the album’s recording) and bassist Justin Harris, has culminated in the creation of a tranquil collection of melodic tracks. After years of tension within the group, there now appears a stability which the band have previously lacked. Gone are the electrifying riffs of yesteryear and in their place is a spectrum of mellowed synth, which lap at your ears. There’s something very comforting about this new sound.

Frontman Kele Okereke has cited that Hymns is partly influenced by his fascination for religious music, despite him admitting he is not religious himself, nor is the album a religious piece of music – merely a by-product of his recurrent listening. This influence appears evident on lead track The Love Within, with jittery notes that draw comparisons to electrified organs, which are coupled with lyrics that carry semantic links to other-worldly figures in the form of “The angel told me not to fear, that the power to is in me”.

Fortress is brimming with glossy vocals, similar to those that can be found on Okereke’s solo work, most notably his second LP Trick. However Different Drugs is a testimony to the band’s newly adopted creative direction, and the ethereal synth convolutes with the resonant bass to form a blissful blend of noise that’s layered with Okereke’s silky lyrics, which add the final glint to the track’s splendor.

Most recently released single Virtue is a self-confessed, electronica laden dance track that’s about as close as you’ll get to any of the band’s previous material, and is seemingly stuck in limbo between previous LP Four and Hymns. 

Bloc Party sign off with a hint of what’s to come, with Okereke’s voice being cast over a sea of electronic waves in Living Lux. “Raise your glass my old friend, as we both know this is the end” hints at a toast towards nostalgic emotions and seemingly celebrates the band’s metamorphosis into their current guise.

Hymns is an introspective glance into the mind of Okereke and its rawness is something to be admired. The loss of a more dynamically charged, guitar-led focal point is at first frightening and unnatural, given the band’s previous success with the approach, however once listeners come to terms with this, the new material ranks highly. The reincarnation of Bloc Party is one that carries much promise and, if given time, they will blossom into something special.

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Lewis Evans

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