Bloc Party - HYMNS (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bloc Party

HYMNS (2016)

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Gone are the days of Bloc Party making indie-rock gold like "Helicopter". With a new lineup in tow, they've crossed the floor and are now a synth-pop band. That's the best way and quickest way to put it. The sharp guitar licks and raspy melodies have made way for atmospheric calm and melodic beats that while, earnestly written, somehow end up devoid of any emotion. Not a nice thing for me to write given I've been a huge fan for years. But if this is the direction they wanna take things, more power to them. That said, HYMNS falls depressingly flat and is one of the most boring listens I've ever had.

It's their fifth record and first in four years. An announcement I couldn't contain my excitement over. Singer Kele Okereke and guitarist Russell Lissack are still at the helm, and in the place of drummer Matt Tong and bassist Gordon Moakes, two new members came in - 21-year-old drummer Louise Bartle, found by the pair via YouTube, and bassist Justin Harris. Let me just say, this album feels like Okereke's solo and is so minimal, it doesn't even feel like a band. The relentless energy of old is dead and while it's Okereke's most personal and vulnerable lyrics, the synth vibe of tracks like "The Love Within" and "Fortress" come off bland and uninspired. I enjoy his words on the battle with religion and relationships in his life but all you really soak in are some incisive percussion beats here and there. It's such a musically bare record. "Into The Earth" is the only song that feels like a rock song and it's also very soft and drab. So many songs riff off the same synth beats that HYMNS end up being a contemplative session that puts you to sleep as opposed to prodding at your mind. I'm still in disbelief. I've got no problem in changing your sound (PBTT, Ceremony etc) but at least make it sound interesting. This record is a fucking shambles.