When: 3rd June 2022
Bloc Party are back with a bang with new single ‘Traps’ and news of sixth studio album Alpha Games. Coming to Glasgow’s Barrowland on 3rd June 2022.
It’s near impossible to understand the heyday of noughties British indie rock without looking to Bloc Party: the angular guitars; the distinct British accent; the frenetic drums that play chase with the tempo; the serrated post-punk edge; and the seemingly politicised name that, in reality, just sounded pretty cool. Still lead by Kele Okereke, the band are one of few from the era who have managed to survive the decade and prosper from new ideas and new directions.
The band began in 1999
The band began in 1999 after Okereke bumped into old school pal Russell Lissak at Reading Festival. The two clearly inspired by the weekend enough to agree to begin practising together. After recruiting Pete Tong on drums and Gordon Moakes on bass the four finally decided on their name after trialling the likes of Union or Diet. Their first single, the scratchy and machine-like ‘The Marshals Are Dead’ remains a classic amongst the band’s fan base. But the story goes that it took Okereke handing Steve Lamacq and Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos a copy of ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ in 2003 to gain their real breakthrough. A year later, Bloc Party had signed with the new but remarkably promising independent label Wichita Recordings. They released their debut LP, Silent Alarm.
“It has big sound, big hooks, energetic performances, ambition”, said a Pitchfork review of Silent Alarm in 2005; “This is a solid, intelligent album that a lot of people will love”. The writer was not wrong. With tracks flitting from the disco drama of ‘Banquet’ to the cutting chops of ‘Helicopter’ or the bittersweet Aaahs of ‘This Modern Love’, the debut was an instant classic.
From the opening hymn-like hums of one of its main singles ‘The Prayer’, it was clear that the band’s 2007 follow-up A Weekend In the City would take turns down darker and different sonic side streets. Whilst maintaining the same nervous energy that drove their debut. On ‘Flux’, this turn would lead straight through the doors of a London nightclub. With its hyperspeed arpeggiated synths and electrified heart palpitations. That said, tracks such as ‘I Still Remember’ and ‘Kreuzberg’ still echoed the sentimentality of its predecessor.
Third studio album
Building on this duality of dark and distorted with tender and sweet, if not saccharine, aesthetics, in 2008 Bloc Party released their third studio album Intimacy. With tracks including the rhythmic fever dream ‘Mercury’. As well as the gripping ‘Talons’ and the lullaby-like ‘Signs’. The record was as its name admitted the closest fans had come to Okereke’s inner thoughts. But this was towards the end of the decade followed by a hiatus. With the frontman moving to Berlin to focus on solo work – though the band were quick to deny its permanence.
Indeed, in 2012 news came of Four, their succinctly titled next album. It would see a return to the guitar-lead sound of their early days. With some added stadium-filling heft on the likes of ‘3 X 3’ and ‘We Are Not Good People’. 2013 and 2015 saw the departures of Tong and Moakes respectively. With the last two founding members revealing their replacements at a show in Los Angeles in 2015. Louise Bartle became their new drummer with Justin Harris on the bass. On the band’s fifth record, Hymns, released in early 2016, the new ensemble traded guitars for keys once more, but this time to more soulful and introspective effect.
In November 2021, Kele and co. dropped new single ‘Traps’, a colossal rock song with typically dizzying guitar line and indie-disco drum beat, in turn announcing their sixth album Alpha Games, set for release in April 2022.