Sound — 6
Alternative rock group Bloc Party first began heading head first into the mainstream back in 2005, following the release of their debut studio album titled "Silent Alarm." Immediately the band began gathering attention because of their distinctive sound, which draws some significant influence from such groups as The Cure and Mogwai mixed with alternative dance elements and a post-punk rock groove. "Silent Alarm" was met with moderate success, going on to sell well over a million copies and was met with praising critical reception from professional music critics.
Since the release of their debut, Bloc Party have released several subsequent studio albums, with bear the respective titles of "A Weekend in the City" and "Intimacy": both of which brought the band noticeable praise from critics, several hit chart climbing singles and another platinum certificated record. Since their debut, the band has also evolved their signature sound into a more heavily guitar-driven punk rock direction, similar to that of Radiohead. And now Bloc Party are returning to the music scene in 2013 bearing their now fourth studio album, which shows the band continuing in the direction Bloc Party was previously shown moving in with "Intimacy."
"The Nextwave Sessions" is an EP of traditional Bloc Party-sounding songs, built around complimentary guitar playing, emphasized percussion work and charisma-infused lead vocals. We get a strong listen into the album with "Ratchet," a song which begins with a dominative drum beat before picking up with a repetitive electric guitar lick and vocals which soar above all other instruments in the mix. Upon first listen the song can be admittedly overwhelming to listen to, the main reason being the quality of the production.
Lyrics — 6
Lead vocalist Kele Okereke gives a very good performance throughout "The Nextwave Sessions." When he sings on this EP, his vocals are a consistently noteworthy feature that allows each song to truly standout: unfortunately not in the best way. His performance is not in any way "bad"; in fact, I personally found the amount of emotion that Kele implements into his singing style one of this album's better qualities. But the album's production doesn't give his performance justice. His vocals sit heavy in the mix, and doesn't provide enough emphasis on the rest of the musicians.
Overall Impression — 6
When from an instrumental standpoint the album lands above expectations, the production quality that comes with "The Nextwave Sessions" drags down the entire band's performance. The vocals sit heavy in the mix, and makes the at-home listening experience very difficult to enjoy. The production comes across as very rushed, and while it may have benefited such previous Bloc Party outings as "Intimacy" it is the factor that prevents this album from living up to it's potential. All of that aside, this is an EP that still comes recommended to any established fan of Bloc Party, as well as any alternative rock follower.