Bloc Party is a band that seems to get smaller with each consecutive album. More relentless and introspective than ever before, Intimacy isn’t intimate at all, but noisy, antagonistic, and nasty—the music of frustrated people. It’s also quite a bit more complicated musically than their previous efforts, using a variety of editing tricks, loops, and electronic wizardry.
It’s a little surprising to hear Bloc Party, the darlings of erstwhile hipster critics, embark on such a roller coaster-like departure from their tamer and more tender earlier albums. Fortunately, they have the talent to sustain something a little different. They may have lost some of the organic, emotional honesty that was present on their earlier albums, thanks to added drum machines and synthesizer textures. But damn, they sound tight. I’m constantly amazed at the speed of drummer Matt Tong, or the godlike range of Kele Okereke, a truly underrated vocalist whose panting, wavering moan is the only thing about this record that sounds intimate.
It takes a few listens before Intimacy becomes impressive, but once it grew on me, it reinforced Bloc Party’s sparkling originality. It may be too angular and smug at times, and there were times when I found myself longing for the old Bloc Party. But there’s enough inventive spirit on this record for an entire career. Intimacy feels like a transition – if the band doesn’t plan on building on this new sound of theirs, then it’s likely to fall flat quickly. But if it’s only one step in a new direction, then I’m eagerly waiting for the destination.
In A Word: Dreadlocks