I’ve listened to many albums where a lack of cohesion and consistency is a big fat problem, and let me tell you, that’s an issue that has never entered Bloc Party’s mind when creating their new album Alpha Games. But really, could we expect anything less from the band that brought us Silent Alarm, Intimacy, and Four?
After reviewing the single ‘Sex Magik’, which dropped in February, I am indeed back for more, and I can say with confidence that the album is even better than the single let on. Opening with a sharp, bold intensity on ‘Day Drinker’ and closing out with ‘The Peace Offering’ to slow things down, the curation of this record deserves a round of applause in itself. It follows a flow of fast-paced, energetic, somewhat haunting rock that Bloc Party has been delivering for years now.
Some of the album’s standouts include tracks like ‘Callum Is a Snake’ with its sharp, bright guitar parts, ‘Rough Justice’ with its lyrical charm and beat, and their house-tinged ‘Sex Magik’, which they released as a single prior to dropping the album. Each of these tracks, along with the rest of the songs on the album, fit within the same 2010s indie-rock flavour that the band has built its wheelhouse in. The kicker that makes this album different? Bloc Party has been delivering this sound forever, and this is simply another example of them perfecting their own craft.
‘By Any Means Necessary’ and ‘If We Get Caught’ have got to be some of the best on this record. They’re unique, catchy, and melodic, sweeping you up in their energy before closing out the album and slowing down. Yes, the entire album is good, but it gets better towards the end without a doubt.
This album offers a bittersweet near-nostalgic listen. And no, the music itself might not be nostalgia bait, but with so many bands of their era afraid to touch their old sound, this is a refreshing release. It belongs on the same playlists as some of the songs that made their listeners fall in love with the band in the first place. 2000s and 2010s indie is making a comeback, and Bloc Party is fixing up to be in the drivers’ seat. To me, this is their best since 2012’s Four.
However, this isn’t to say there’s been no evolution. Bloc Party’s songwriting quality has deepened and intensified. Lead singer Kele Okereke says himself: “I don’t feel that I’d have been able to write songs like this earlier on in my career because all of the characters seem to revel in their dysfunction, whereas I feel like in the past I would have tried to resolve everything or put a rosy tint on things. But I think it was important in this record to see all of the ugliness. To see what happens when you stop seeing other people as human.”
Bloc Party has always been a band that allows the music shines bright, from the dark and sinister quality to the light details they use to juxtapose and balance. If this album wants for anything, it’d probably be in the lyrical department. But as a listener, this isn’t something that bothers me, as they more than make up for the places it can fall behind. The cool and energetic instrumentation and songwriting ability make them what they are.
Bloc Party is a memorable band, and this is a memorable album to sit among the rest. And with singles like ‘Traps’, ‘Sex Magik’, and ‘The Girls Are Fighting’ already gaining some headway, it’s likely only a matter of time before Alpha Games joins the ranks of their other modern cult classics.
If you want to take a listen to Bloc Party’s new album Alpha Games, you can find it on all streaming platforms out today, April 29th.