FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2016 |
Posted by: Mike Montemarano
Bloc Party's Hymns is a contender for the band's best album yet. The lyricism combined with the atmospheric and lush soundscapes they have constructed take one's mind all over the place. Kele Okereke's smooth singing, backed by choral effects which are both rhythmic and at times occultish are immersed in just the right amount of melancholic synth to create a postmodern interpretation of spiritual awakening that is alive, disoriented, frenzied, and none the less pure.
The album indulges in conceptual tales of dystopian, Philip K. Dick-esque hallucinatory qualities, leaving one to wonder what kind of god Okereke has discovered. There are times where a distant, dreamy interpretation of gospel and soul adds an alien quality to the work, which embellishes the narrative of being lost and searching for purpose that is present in the bizarre journey the album paints. This album is a dystopian, postmodern look atthe void of spirituality in the gaping mouth of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.
The first track, "The Love Within," is one of the danciest synth pop songs I've heard in a long time. If Bloc Party has mastered one musical aspect above any other, it has to be picking exactly the right rhythm to match the thematics behind any given song and the electric atmosphere they often produce. The track feels like a spiritual transcendence taking place through a crazy combination of drugs and futuristic, transhumanist electronics to produce a sound which makes me want to drop whatever I'm doing and nod my head while making weird faces. "The Love Within" is one of those tracks that makes me wish I was good at making electronic music.
Tracks like "The Good News" and "Different Drugs" add an earthly quality through the out-of-place blues twang which tells of damage being done, while making it back into one's head only to yearn for the hazy escapism and disengagement from the world in the many peaks of the album, in the ups and downs, the returns and departures from lucidity. There is a sense of a life unresolved, and unfixable, a last effort at salvaging something unconditional and always present.
"Into the Earth" is a step into something much more down to earth...into a very lucid jadedness that combines with a more earnest attempt to be poignant and accepting in a world which pushes one towards cultural escapism. It represents the transitions in the mind; each song garners a new approach towards mindfulness and reality. "The Fortress" and "Different Drugs" both explore emotional distance in the midst of what should be intimacy in ways that are very clear and easy to grasp. These new styles certainly add to the themes the band has chosen to incorporate in their latest work.
The album offers an immersive experience, and despite the overall thematic overlap each song offers its own cool cadence and approach, creating a collage in which one song blends into the next quite well while each song maintains its own succinct character. While often the group get clustered with many other indie Britpop bands, Bloc Party offer a genuine and distinguished texture to the broader sweeping wave of the Brit rock revival, and Hymns is no exception.