Sound: Alternative rock band Bloc Party have been performing their music for over a decade, since their formation in London, England back in 2003. Drawing inspiration from such groups as The Cure, Mogwai and Radiohead, Bloc Party recorded a small demo tape titled "She's Hearing Voices." This demo tape ended up earning Bloc Party their first significant break, as it would soon be given moderate airplay by BBC Radio 1. With the band's name at least embedded in the minds of listeners, Bloc Party released their debut album "Silent Alarm" in 2005, and was met with praising critical acclaim. "Silent Alarm" would later be named Indie Album of the Year and NME album of the year in 2006, and become certified double platinum that same year as well.
Bolstered by this success, Bloc Party returned to the studio and reemerged in 2007 with their second outing, "A Weekend in the City," which peaked at number two in the UK Albums Chart and number 12 on the Billboard 200. Bloc Party would continue this successful streak once again with their third studio album, "Intimacy," before going into hiatus in 2009 so their members could focus on side projects and spend more time experimenting musically. Fortunately for Bloc Party fans, the group would reemerge in September of 2011, and released their fourth studio album, appropriately titled "Four." This studio effort entered the UK Albums Chart at number three.
After a string of successful alternative rock-infused albums, Bloc Party are moving into a new musical direction with their new compilation album, "Tapes." The members of Bloc Party themselves are not changing up their style on this new release: instead, a number of their fan favorite songs are being remixed and given a dance party groove by Bloc Party lead vocalist Kele Okereke, while being placed alongside songs by lesser known artists of the same genre which subsequently inspired Kele or he simply personally enjoyed. While it is grantedly a very different and curious direction for Bloc Party to take (having one member rereleasing other bands' songs alongside a remixed handful of your own, and then issuing this collection of songs as a compilation album under your own band's name), fans should be able to at least enjoy the new take on such Bloc Party songs as "Obscene." // 6
Lyrics: On all of the songs which make an appearance on this new compilation album, there is a recurring theme: heavy-in-the-mix electronic synthesizers and pounding bass lines, which coat any recognizable vocal performances. One of the strongest examples off of the album is Wookie feat. Lain's "Battle," which is filled to the brim with robotic sounds, and a vocal performance which takes the same role in the mix as you would normally expect a bass to carry. The electronic side of these songs unfortunately also share a similar quality, and that is they are mostly overly repetitive and uncreative. // 5
Overall Impression: Bloc Party move into a very different musical direction with their new compilation album, "Tapes." The signature Bloc Party sound is nearly unrecognizable, even when the group's lead vocalist remixes their own material. Nonetheless, "Tapes" is still an album that comes recommended to any regular dance party attendee, and any Bloc Party follower should find it an interesting listen as well. // 5
- Lou Vickers (c) 2013