Sound — 9
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."
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 9
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).