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Album Review

Intimacy would have been a good name for Bloc Party's previous album, A Weekend in the City, which was so vulnerable and confessional that it often felt like barely edited diary entries set to music. The album's take on 21st century life and love was heavy listening in large part because it felt so personal. Bloc Party's mood is just as dark on Intimacy, which plays a lot like A Weekend in the City's mirror twin: it's a breakup album that gives personal situations a political heft. The similarities aren't really that surprising, considering that Intimacy arrived just a year and a half after A Weekend in the City and also features production work by Jacknife Lee (as well as Silent Alarm producer Paul Epworth). The album begins with two of Bloc Party's angriest, most experimental songs, which revisit the beat-heavy territory of A Weekend in the City's "Prayer" with even more charged results. "Ares" is a modern-day war chant, with seething processed guitar lines fueled by huge pummeling drums, the likes of which haven't been heard since the big beat heyday of the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. "Mercury" is cleverly astrological, using a straight description of Mercury's retrograde conditions ("This is not the time to start a new love/This is not the time to sign a lease") as a springboard to a self-loathing rant set to wildly spiraling brass and more of those bludgeoning beats. Bloc Party push the envelope hard on both of these tracks, almost to the point of pretension, but not quite; actually, it's a little anticlimactic when they return to more familiar terrain like "Halo," which could fit in easily among Silent Alarm's angsty rockers.

However, the band does find subtle ways to tweak and channel that angst: "Biko" (not the Peter Gabriel song) is dedicated to Kele Okereke's "sweetheart the melancholic," but when he sings that "you've got to toughen up," he sings it to himself as much as his lost love, and as the song closes with a swell of backing vocals, it's clear that he's singing about more than something between two people. The band captures post-breakup obsession masterfully on the frosty yet strangely hopeful "Signs," where the way Okereke sings "I could sleep forever these days/'Cause in my dreams I see you again" makes this kind of brooding almost as romantic as actually being in love. "Zephyrus" balances Intimacy's heartbreak and experimental tendencies into a standout, setting snippets of an argument to strings, choral vocals, and sputtering rhythms. "Ion Square" ends the album on a somewhat uplifting note along the lines of Silent Alarm's "So Here We Are" or A Weekend in the City's "I Still Remember," and as good as it is, it underscores the album's push-pull between familiar sounds and breaking boundaries. At times, Intimacy feels rushed and predictable, and at others, it's almost painfully ambitious. However, at its best, it balances Silent Alarm's focus with A Weekend in the City's expansiveness.

Customer Reviews

Ok, so.

I've been a huge bloc part fan ever since the first chords of Banquet, but this album has some real issues. Bloc Party has lost the music, yes, they make noise with guitars, but the same emotion isn;t there. I'm not saying all the songs are bad, just not well done. Ares, for instance, it just noise, there is no hook, no rhythm, no flow, it's just noise. Other than that the songs all work, but the loud songs are to loud, not leaving enough room for the soul that could usually be found on their albums. The Soft songs though, Ion Square, Bko, Signs are all incredible, and this album has many of them. I do have to say I feel the mixing of the album was poor, to jump between loud songs and soft ones, the flow of the album seemed random. Talons is a great new single with great power, a better single than anything off of A Weekend in the City. I was hoping they would have made this album more in the style of Flux, their best song to date, unfortunatly I was wrong. I give this 4 stars as I feel that the music is great (except Ares of course) if I were you I'd play around with the order of the songs, I found that Flux, Halo, Signs, Talons, Mercury, Biko, Better Than Heaven, Trojan Horse, One Month Off, Zephyrus, Letter To My Son, Your Visits Are Getting Shorter and Ion Square in that order has a much better feel and flow, try it out.

This is for all the people saying Bloc Party have "changed" or are "different"

"In an interview with MTV Canada, Okereke has also said that due to their "four album deal" with their record company, they made it so that each member of the band gets to put their own influences into the album (besides Okereke's lyrical content). This album features more of Matt Tong's influences." - Wikipedia

Intimacy TBTR (Track-by-Track Review)

Ares: 8.5/10 - A nice way to open the album, fast with great drums and guitar. Mercury: 8.5/10 - Their first single off of Intimacy, is beat-heavy and exciting. *** Halo: 9/10 - Kicka$$ guitar parts here, very reminiscent of Silent Alarm's 'Luno'. *** Biko: 5/10 - Too slow for my tastes, but some might enjoy it. Also, it drags on a bit. Trojan Horse: 8/10 - Quite good song, but is hard to understand what Kele is saying. Well rounded song. Signs: 9/10 - Haunting is probably the best way to describe it, and that xylophone-sounding thing? Astonishing. *** One Month Off: 9/10 - The only downside to this rocker is that the chorus is a bit repetetive. Otherwise, awesome song. *** Zephyrus: 9.5/10 - Easily one of the best songs on the album, the beats, lyrics, and haunting nature are sweet. *** Talons: 7.5/10 - The 2nd single, isn't a very strong one. Just too average. Better Than Heaven: 8.5/10 - Very catchy, and the vocals and backbeat are great. A bit depressing sounding though... *** Ion Square: 10/10 - All I can say is wow. Talk about one hell of an album closer. Clocking in at 6:32, this is pretty much a combo of the catchy chords of 'Banquet' and the epic-ness of 'So Here We Are'. *** Overall Rating = 4 stars Songs I would reccomend are marked with a ***.


Formed: London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Equally inspired by Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Gang of Four, and the Cure, East London art punkers Bloc Party mix angular sonics with pop structures. Consisting of singer/guitarist Kele Okereke, guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist/singer Gordon Moakes, and drummer Matt Tong, the band was formerly known as Angel Range and Union before settling on Bloc Party. Okereke and Lissack met each other through mutual friends at the Reading Festival, and discovered that they had musical tastes as well as friends...
Full Bio
Intimacy, Bloc Party
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Alternative, Music, Rock, Adult Alternative, Indie Rock
  • Released: Oct 28, 2008

Customer Ratings