Released: Aug 21, 2008
Genre: Post-punk Revival, Dance-punk
Number Of Tracks: 10
Intimacy is the third studio album by Bloc Party, which was released online in MP3 format on 21 August and will be released in physical form on October 27.
patch17, on september 01, 2008 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: So this is it! Bloc Party's eagerly anticipated third album. I have to say, after I heard the first single, Mercury, I had my doubts. I was beginning to wonder if it would be the "fall" of Bloc Party, that some die-hard fans from the Little Thoughts EP days were starting to talk about. After listening to the album however, those doubts were swept away. Claims that the album was going to be similiar to another Silent Alarm were inaccurate, as were the rumours that Bloc Party were going techno. On Intimacy, Bloc Party mixes that classic Bloc sound we all know and love (Halo), a slightly technological edge (Trojan Horse) and experimantal rawness (Ares), along with the beautiful Signs, and the restful Ion Square, which finishes off the album extremely well. Russell Lissack continues to shine in his lead guitar duties with some great riffs on Halo and Trojan Horse, while Gordon Moakes' brilliantly simple bass playing and Matt Tong's energetic drums provide an excellent rhythm section.
For me, Mercury was a very weird choice for a single, as it doesn't display any real aspects of Intimacy, apart from the technological side and vocal sampling. // 8
Lyrics: Lead singer Kele Okereke has stated that this is his "Break-Up Album", and lyrics on One Month Off, Trojan Horse, and Zephyrus paint a vivid picture of life as only Bloc Party can with lyrics such as "You used to take your watch off, before we made love/ You didn't want to share our time with anyone" from Trojan Horse and the chorus lyrics in One Month Off "I can be as cruel as you/Fighting fire with firewood/ I can be as cruel as you/Fighting lies with lies" are the particular lyrics that stand out for me.
Okereke also pulls on other inspiration, with Better Than Heaven having a religious side to the lyrics, and Ion Square quoting poet E.E Cummings on the chorus "I carry your heart here with me, I carry it in my heart". Biko is about a friend with cancer "If I could eat your cancer I would", and Signs is written about a loved one dying "At your funeral I was so upset". He continues to experiment with his vocal style, with wild screaming on the crazed opener Ares, and vocal sampling on Mercury and One Month Off. // 9
Overall Impression: For those expecting a second Silent Alarm, Intimacy may have come as a bit of a shock. Intimacy is well produced, with well known producers Paul Epworth and Jacknife Lee. It showcases the bands evolving musical style, and enhances Kele Okereke's reputation as a lyricist. In a sense, this album is Bloc Party's equivalent of Radiohead's Kid A, in what it has done for the band, and the changes in the band's sound. Overall, Intimacy is a great buy, and I would thouroughly recommend it. // 9
AGowans, on september 01, 2008 2 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: The 'usual' hype that seems to revolve around every release was non-existent. A little more than 48 hours prior to release we were gifted the opportunity to pre-order and soon after the digital release of 'Intimacy' reached our ears. 'Intimacy' can crudely be described as the natural progression with regards to the evolution seen between 'Silent Alarm', 'Weekend in the City' and insights into the band's mind with 'Flux' & 'Mercury'. While 'Mercury' appears to be a substantial detraction from the original formula seen 3 years ago, in the context of 'Intimacy' it still remains well within the boundaries of Bloc Party. Opening with 'Ares' we are led into the effect driven and electro-influenced soundscape that defines much of 'Intimacy'. The crude nature of Okereke's yells, that follow into 'Mercury', are entwined within the effect-driven guitar riffs that bear little resemblance to anything of the past. The appearance of 'Mercury' afterwards bears little surprise and potentially sets the tone for a very 'big-beat' based album, heavily influenced by sample and synth based rhythms.
We are then led down a nearly forgotten path with ' Halo', a throw back to the riff-driven days of Silent Alarm. Without doubt the most formulaic Bloc Party track on the album - it certainly impresses and is by no means a bad track, however deep within this feels like a song so easily written that brings nothing new or inspirational to the table. It's a tone found later on with 'Trojan Horse', again centric upon Lissack's guitar riffs, however increasingly evident is the exceedingly produced nature of the album, drafting samples and effects from way beyond the talents of any live sound engineer. Like 'Weekend in the City' this album certainly has it's quieter moments. 'Biko' highlights the more solemn side of Bloc Party, akin to efforts such as 'Sunday', but more so 'Emma Kate's Accident'. While a step back it begins to introduce the big-beat themes found earlier in the album, and again reinforces the electronic and produced theme of the album. 'Signs' on the other hand feels like an attempt to make a carbon-copy of 'The Warning' by Hot Chip. While a valiant effort, and in turn likable song, it lacks any of the uniqueness which has driven much of Bloc Party's success over the years.
The album ultimately culminates in what feels to be the bands aim for the better part of two years now. "Better than Heaven" feels like a more complete take upon 'Uniform'. Driven by productions values and exposed vocals in the first act in soon turns it's laurels and grants us the rock-oriented mess than so kindly reminds those that enjoy Bloc Party why they listen to them in the first place. Sonically, this album is very different to it's predecessors, however retains much of the same atmosphere seen from Weekend in the City. Gone are the guitar hooks that are chanted along live by the crowd, replaced somewhat distastefully by Okereke's vocals as the weapon of choice. While they may not displease, the formula that has driven Bloc Party is no more, saturated in studio effects that take away from the true quality of the rest of the band. // 7
Lyrics: 'Intimacy' is the most personal attempt from Okereke to date; ultimately however it fails to inspire and address like previous albums. The words feel convoluted with cliches, even their presentation often lacks the emotional drive seen in prior attempts - a distinct lack of conviction strikes me throughout vast portions of the album. Personally, there is nothing distinctly 'bad' or 'distasteful' about what is spoken - exceedingly when you place comparisons to prior attempts. "You get sadder, the smarter you get. And it's a bore." is one of the least striking images of all time, and while not a vital part of 'Better Than Heaven', is shortly followed by "And there was a time before we were born, when we stood in the garden". Unless I'm missing some deep, underlying message or themes, so little inspires and so much is approachable from face value requiring little thought and interpretation.
While I like to refrain from making references to the past, as personal as "Biko" and "Trojan Horse" may be, when placed side by side with "Banquet" and "This Modern Love" they fail to inspire the same thought and desire to apply personal interpretation. 'Banquet' one of the more personal songs on Silent Alarm, delved into the emotions of sex, however it's true success from a lyrical perspective was to be found in it's interpretation. While not 'bad', 'challenging' to enjoy. A disappointment given how much I enjoyed the past. // 5
Overall Impression: This album remains well within the realms of what one would refer to Bloc Party, despite the distance that 'Mercury' creates for itself, that in the context of the album doesn't seem so far after all. It is the natural progression expected from Weekend in the City, electronically charged, while attempting, albeit rarely, to recapture the guitars found on Silent Alarm. While lyrically disheartening, it is the use of Okereke as the centerpiece for nearly every song that plays more to my worries. A strong vocalist that stutters rarely in his technical ability and his general presentation (though the emotion seen in the past lacks), the hooks are close to being forgotten, and similarly the rest of the band. Bloc Party feels increasingly like Okereke's stage. // 7
The_Rant, on september 08, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: No single has divided the opinion of fans as the recent single 'Mercury', yet in interviews from the band, it seemed as if, like 'Flux', it was a one off occurance, left over from the Weekend in the City sessions. Thus, it came as a complete shock on the 19th of August when the band announced they would be releasing a new LP, 'Intimacy' in just two days, setting the mood of suprise consistent throughout the album, in a statement that is far superior to Bloc Party's much panned previous album, and almost on-par with their blazing debut. The aformentioned mood is set in the opening track Ares, an all out sonic raid, with wailing guitars, chanted vocals and drum loops giving the track a decidedly 'Nu-Rave' vibe. This is followed by the lead single Mercury which completely abandons the notion of a traditional four peace rock band, incoporating brass instrumentation, synthesisers and sinister undertones compliant with the overall apocalyptic and urgent theme of the song.
The album can best be described as the band initially have. It is the apparent mixtuture of 'classic' Bloc Party (Halo, One Month Off), 'wild experimentation' (album standout Zepherus, Biko) and tracks that sit somewhere inbetween this, most notably Trojan Horse, which incoporates electro influences, but is a clear example of good 'ol fashioned Bloc Party riffage. Unlike a Weekend in the City, which is frustratingly inconsistent in it's tracklisting, Intimacy maintains a healthy balance; a major element of the albums overall listenablilty is ensured by the fact that slow and sombre songs such as Biko are complimented by songs that are reassuringly and unmistakably classic Bloc Party, such as One Month Off, or Better than heaven, which is remarkably similar to Silent Alarm's Price Of Gas. This is neatly summed up in a line in closer, Ion Square; "I've found my dancing shoes, but they don't fit." // 9
Lyrics: While the lyrics of 'Weekend.' were confused, inconsistent (uniform anyone) intimacy's lyrical intent is perfectly clear, confused, but intentionally so. Described as Kele's 'break up album' Intimacy offers a glimpse into the opposite of it's namesake, the breakdown of a realtionship, which is best described in Trojan Horses 'You used to take your watch off before we made love/ You didn't want to share your time with anyone'. However, like the two previous efforts, a number of tracks are more of a social commentary than personal. Though, unlike the broad generalisations of songs such as Uniform, Intimacy's 'gang violence' song Ares is a pleasurable listen in that there is a feeling of venemous humour rather than commenting from a distance. 'Re, re, re this shit is long' snarles Kele in his most mocking tone.
Yet despite this, there are the occasional f--k-ups. Intimacy has it's moments of cringeworthy lyrics that reads like the trotured musings of a 16 year old's 'poetry', Signs' 'At your funeral I was so upset, so upset' holds itself as a prime example of this. Though reassuringly, this is a mere small stain on an overall lyrical statment that is overtly more effective than A Weekend In The City, and great in it's own right. // 8
Overall Impression: Bloc Party have delivered an statement that is both musically and lyrically impressive. Defying haters and naysayers ('err, Mercury's shit, it sounds like a remix') they have achived what they failed to do in A Weekend In The City and convince listeners that this is the ablum they had wanted to make, forging ahead but not forgetting their roots. Thus Intimacy could very well be the album of the year (if the new Kings of Leon album flops). // 9
seemurdoch, on november 10, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Bloc Party is hands down a fantastic band. From Kele Okereke's lyrics to techno drums, the British quartet own on "Intimacy". Last year's "A Weekend In The City" defined Bloc Party for their entire career. They showed us their heart searing lyrics, mechanical rhythms and quiet mourning laments. It's predictable that the guys felt some pressure with their next follow-up. "Intimacy" attempts to start where "Weekend" ended. The introductory track, "Ares", kicks off with distant oriental vocals. Until guitarist Russel Lissack breaks the peace with his shrieking, fuzz coated riffs. Bloc's signature drums then introduce themeselves with the usual quick, techno rampage. This song is amongst the many power surged tracks on this album.
So many of these, that the listener sometimes feels tired; longing for a rest period. The rest periods do come eventually in such beautiful pieces like "Signs", "Letter To My Son" and "Ion Square". But the ADHD tracks like "Mercury" and "Talons" easily impress. "Mercury" became the album's first single in August and prepared us well for "Intimacy's" release. "Mercury" looks back to the group's first release, "Silent Alarm", and produces punching staccato, deep and unexpected cresendos and a marching band on crack. This song is shadowing, but it is deep red also, bringing the slice of confused anger to the record. This is apparent in Okereke's lyrics: "Scars on shins and scars on my knuckles/Today I woke up in a basketball court/Jonjo's in Sydney and he aint returning/I'm sitting in soho trying to stay drunk."
You do that man.
Bloc Party has a very unique sound. With techno, indie and just plain strange material, they are the first to do what they have done. But on near perfect tracks like "Your Visits Are Getting Shorter" they look to their Brit forefathers like Duran Duran during the bridge with their beat-busty 80's keyboard showcase. Likes of The Cure can be distantly distinguished in the damp and drippy riffs of "Letter To My Son". Although the work is no "Friday I'm In Love".
"Signs" is clearly the nurtured child of the record. This song snows with it's chimes, bells and hazed harmonies. Lovers of the soft-sided Bloc Party, you'll cry to this. Snow can be cold, it can be molded and it can be melted. The content of this piece does just that. // 8
Lyrics: Not only is "Signs" the best track on the record musically, but lyrically as well. The lyrics freeze you where you are, they mold your heart to beat with Okereke's, then they melt you. It's obvious that this song was written from the event of a death of a love interest. Okereke sets no boundaries for his writing. If he feels it, he'll purge it. "Signs" sobs to his loved one "I see signs now all the time/That your not dead your sleeping" and "At your funeral I was so upset/In your life you were larger than this statuesque." Okereke is the best lyrical expert out there today, and not from his metaphor, he says it straight up. Sometimes you see more naked then you do clothed.
"Intimacy" is no doubt an album of relationships. "Better Than Heaven" shows us what kind of intimacy Bloc wants us to feel with "You get sadder the smarter you get/and it's a bore." It's apparent that Okereke has trouble writing a sunshine love tune. // 10
Overall Impression: "Intimacy" is overall a good record. It contains the power-packed punches, the peaceful pains, and the awkward surrealist tracks like "Zephyrus". But "Zephyrus" becomes plain out annoying with the sudden and frightning vocal pops. The acoustic revision of "Talons" bores without a sense of the hyperactive original version. "Biko" repeates, repeates, repeates and then repeats some more until you finally get sick os it and skip to the following electronic emo "Trojan Horse". One listen through the entire album can leave you exaughsted and skipping back to "Signs" and "Your Visits are Getting Shorter". But considering the masterpiece of "A Weekend In The City", it's understandable that Bloc Party tried to continue the virtuosity, but narrowly missed that small area of 'perfect'. // 8