Just Give Me Moments: A Retrospective on Bloc Party

71GQYk2ZacL._SL1277_

Bloc Party’s music has soundtracked most of my adult life. At eighteen, my pre-clubbing ritual entailed a few drinks and a listen to Silent Alarm. At nineteen, I left home right as Bloc Party dropped A Weekend in the City, a concept album about city life. Intimacy was a candid deconstruction of an intense relationship, which I’ve had my share of, and the band’s latest release Hymns fittingly explores growing older and the search for inner peace.

They’ve all been relevant to me, but Weekend felt especially vital. That album captured the exotic wonder of city life and tackled some of the more alienating aspects of modern culture. The lyrics seemed to personally address me, which is why I find parts of it hard to revisit. ‘Song for Clay’ is an anthem for a disaffected youth. The narrator of ‘The Prayer’ yearns for confidence and acceptance. ‘Uniform’ critiques conformity and the commodification of youth culture. ‘On’ examines the futility of escaping with substances. ‘Sunday’ captures the sense of renewal in a hungover morning. ‘Kreuzberg’ is a yearning for personal connection and highlights the dangers of conflating sex with true intimacy, while ‘SRXT’ explores the depths of a devastating depression (“A battle that lasts a lifetime, a fight that never ends”).

There’s plenty of catharsis in Bloc Party’s catalogue. In fact, this band has tunes to cover the entire emotional spectrum. It’s why I’ve amassed every recording, know virtually every lyric, and have been to four of their shows. I love and respect how sonically adventurous they are, how they reinvent themselves with each album (even though their most vocal fans would prefer they stayed in a box).

So, since I like to doggedly avoid cohesion or consistency with my blog content, I wanted to post my analysis of a few Bloc Party songs. These aren’t necessarily my definitive favourites, but they’re songs that mean a lot to me for one reason or another.

Let’s get lost in a forest.

Continue reading

My Favourite Music of 2014

Favourite Pop Tracks:

Caribou – ‘Can’t Do Without You’

Caribou_Our_Love‘Can’t Do Without You’ perfectly introduces the stellar Our Love, Dan Snaith’s sixth album under the Caribou brand. A fun club track, it perfectly synthesises the styles exhibited on previous Caribou LP Swim and the dancefloor-oriented tracks which characterise Snaith’s other musical moniker, Daphni. Club music infused with real emotion.

Modest Mouse – ‘Lampshades on Fire’

A ‘Dashboard’ retread from the Good News for People Who Love Bad News sessions. As samey and, dare I say, lazy as this comeback single feels, its catchiness is undeniable. I’ve missed Modest Mouse so damn much during their ridiculous eight-year hiatus, and welcome their forthcoming release. My body is ready.

Kele – ‘Doubt’

Though I’ve no doubt (pun unintended) that Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke approaches his dance music with conviction, I’m still yet to find it all that engaging. Trick lead single ‘Doubt’, however, is slinky and moves with purpose.

John Frusciante – ‘Fanfare’

I’ve written before about my limited patience for Frusciante’s avant garde stuff, but ‘Fanfare’ – and half of Enclosure, the LP it’s drawn from – I can get behind. Frusciante’s newfound penchant for experimentation clashes head-on with his pop sensibilities, with catchy and unexpected results.

Sticky Fingers – ‘Gold SNAFU’

‘Gold SNAFU’ is the perfect summertime track: it’s laid-back and sports a catchy, whistled refrain. Kudos to Dylan Frost, too, for penning memorable lines like ‘sexy as a slippery water slide’. Sticky Fingers expand their sound while honouring their roots. An Australian band whose evolution I’m enjoying.

The Autumn Defense – ‘I Can See Your Face’

The Fleetwood Mac-esque ‘I Can See Your Face’ is my standout track from The Autumn Defense’s fifth album, Fifth. Pat Sansone and John Stirratt’s warm vocals gel with summery production, making this romantic folk throwback shine.

Chet Faker – ‘Gold’

Chet Faker’s had a monstrous year, with sold-out shows and copious radio play. (His year even culminated in the netting of the Best Male Artist and Best Indie Release ARIAs, which he so graciously accepted.) It’s great to see a local boy make good, though I’m not quite sold on his début LP Built on Glass. (I found it a little tedious. See: the aptly titled ‘Lesson in Patience’, which opens with two minutes of wailing and goes precisely nowhere).

Still, dude can write solid pop tracks. ‘1998’ and ‘Cigarettes & Loneliness’ are contenders, but ‘Gold’ is the definitive bright spot. I’m curious to see what he does next. No diggity.

Michael Jackson – ‘Slave to the Rhythm’

Hesitated putting this on here thanks to the dubious motivations behind this release, but ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, originally written in 1990, is a catchy reaffirmation of Jackson’s pop-writing talents. (Like he needed one.)

Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – ‘Uptown Funk’

bruno-mars-uptown-funk-videoThough it may not reach the same magnitude of cultural hit (due in part to the forever shifting tides of popular music), ‘Uptown Funk’ is, for my money, the most infectious, hook-laden pop song since ‘Hey Ya’. This song is an unparalleled party: all killer, no filler. Even the bridge is an absolute jam.

* * *

 My Favourite Albums of 2014:

  Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams marks Adams’ first release since the stripped-back, hiatus-shattering Ashes & Fire (one of my favourite records of 2011), and largely continues in the same artistic vein. It features a fuller sound than Adams’ last release, but straddles the same adult/contemporary line – not a bad thing. This self-titled release exudes confidence and cohesiveness. It also features some of Adams’ most mature songwriting efforts to date. It’s hard to believe this is the same hyperactive brat who wrote Love is Hell and Rock n Roll.

Foster the People – Supermodel

In 2011, Foster the People burst onto the scene with Torches, a potent pop début with a cache of surprise hits. The album netted the band a legion of global fans and, with the pressure high, it took them three years to follow it up.

Supermodel arrived to a warm but comparatively modest reception. Its singles failed to make the same splash as Torches mega-hit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ and the album largely fell through the cracks.

Admittedly, it took me awhile to warm to Supermodel. It’s a reflexive, considered album, and is less immediate than its predecessor. Here, the band broadens its scope, trying on different stylistic hats. It’s a slower, more experimental affair – and consequently a richer experience. Punters will be greatly rewarded if they invest the time. Continue reading