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Bloc Party's, Hymns, Finds New Harmony

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Bloc Party

Bloc Party’s, Hymns, Finds New Harmony

The album Hymns is a departure for Bloc Party, not only because their sound is more cohesive, but because of its soothing pop vocals and melodies. Bloc Party fans expecting a return of a heavy rock sound as heard on Four might be disappointed, as might be those expecting more of an electronica sound as heard on their third album, Intimacy. Nonetheless, the fans who love their experimental spirit and efforts to reinvent themselves will enjoy this album. In Hymns, Bloc Party may have discovered perfect harmony.

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Live at the Warfield San Francisco

In contrast to their previous albums, Hymns has tracks that reflect this stronger effort for balance. Take, for example, “The Love Within.” This song begins with a strong drum beat, overlaid with Kele Okereke’s tender vocals, and a synthesizer playing tones and glissandos. In the chorus, the rest of the band joins in with guitars and the bass, which helps to meld these elements together. The next track on the album, “Only He Can Heal Me,” continues this harmonious mix by including electronic sounds, guitar riffs, soft yet melodious vocals, and a repetitive, music concrete-style, or a musical extract constructed with pre-recorded voices or sounds, assembled chorus.

This is followed by the rock pop ballad “So Real,” which features a catchy, indie guitar riff, in addition to chords and arpeggios played by a synthesizer. The softer, chill vibe created by tender, pop-style vocals, synthesizers, catchy electric guitar riffs, and electronic sounds continues until the end of the album. Each song continues to have distinct characteristics that are worthy of your time. For example, the song “Eden” relies heavily on percussive elements, a rhythmic bass line, Okereke’s tender vocals, and tonal synthesizer and echoing effects, giving the song a borderline dance feel. The bluesy “The Good News,” uses the steel guitar, which is a unique instrumentation choice for the band. Even though Bloc Party’s sound seems to have become more cohesive, they are still open to instrumental and sonorous experimentation as demonstrated with these songs.

British band Bloc Party is known for their electro rock/pop fusion sound. Hymns perfects their efforts to fuse these genres together to create one, unified sound.

Prior to this album, Bloc Party tended to favor rock, pop, or electronica. Sometimes, the fusion of these genres was cohesive, but not enough to create a congruent sound. Take, for example, their second album, A Weekend in the City. The album begins with the dynamically soft vocals and instrumentation of “Song of Clay (Disappear Here),” insinuating a strong pop sound. Then, a very abrupt electronic guitar riff erupts after “Song of Clay’s (Disappear Here)” soft vocals begin, announcing an indie rock influence. What follows next, is “Hunting for Witches” which has an almost textbook musique concrete intro, featuring rhythmic beats and tones from synthesizers. This is also interlaced with an arpeggiated electronic guitar riff. Track three, “Waiting for the 7:18” puts more emphasis on pop-style vocals rather than instrumentation. The mix continues throughout the rest of the album, with electro rock/popish “Prayer,” the electro rock ballad “Uniform,” and electro-popish “On.”

Their third and fourth albums, Intimacy and Four respectively, showed a stronger effort to solidify their influences into a more unified electro rock/pop sound. However, there were still moments where songs sounded more representative of each rather than a solid conglomeration of these genres. For example, songs like “Halo” from their third album, Intimacy, seem to catch the listener’s attention with loud, grunge-style guitar riffs. By comparison, other songs like “Mercury” and “Ares” feature electro rock sounds that are very calm and shocking contrast from the latter.

British band Bloc Party is known for their electro rock/pop fusion sound. Hymns perfects their efforts to fuse these genres together to create one, unified sound. This demonstrates their growth as songwriters and a band, which indeed deserves praise.