Album Review
Intimacy - Bloc Party

When I think of the word intimacy, I think of some Marvin Gaye, some Luther Vandross, and a little Anita, to quote Mr. West. I don't think of Bloc Party. Regardless, that's what they titled their third album. Kele Okereke, lead singer, described this collection of some of their most hyperactive chaotic songs as a tragic breakup album. Despite these inconsistencies, Bloc Party managed to put together a coherent record.

"Ares" opens the album sounding more like a declaration of war than a requiem of unrequited love. The layered vocals contribute to the frenzied traffic jam of sounds which ends in the entire band dancing to the sound of sirens. So much has been said of "Mercury" that it's hard to separate it from the images of apes bent on world domination and Sister Spears in a blue air hostess uniform, but once you finally get through the blaring horns and remixed "mercury's in retrograde" shouts, you realize that it's a lot more personal than you originally thought. "When I saw you last night, I wanted to say, run away with me away from the cynics; That this could be the start of something truly real…But all that I could say was 'hey'.”

"You're not doing this alone" reassures a computerized voice on "Biko" to a lover lost to cancer. When Kele commands her "So toughen up...I need you to be strong for us," all of a sudden, he's saying this to the victim's heartbroken companion just as much to the victim herself. "Signs" is another gentle side of the album with a xylophone creating a lullaby-like atmosphere. It continues to tell the story of the death of the loved one in "Biko" but takes place after the grieving. "I could sleep forever these days because in my dreams I see you again...I see signs now all the time that you're not dead, you're sleeping."

The rest of the record follows in this vein of longingly looking back at what was lost and what went wrong. "One Month Off" tells of the fight that was the final straw ("I can be as cruel as you; fighting fire with firewood") and "Zephyrus" recounts the lament in it's aftermath ("Baby, I'm ashamed of the things I put you through"). All of the regret melts away in the gorgeous complexity and honesty of "Ion Squares" as Okereke promises that "I carry your heart here with me."

Intimacy is yet another classic in Bloc Party's tradition of guitar-driven, unabashedly British "indie" rock, albeit less guitar and more synth. It's a big step in a continuing effort to define their own sound apart from the countless other British act who wear the same kind of clothes and try to make the same kind of music as them. Ultimately, the album's success comes from its depth. On first listen, the only thing that sticks with you is the ear drum-assaulting first few tracks, but then you discover how truly intimate Intimacy really is. Contender for album of the year.

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Anonymous said...

It should definitely win for best CD cover of the year.

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