Bloc Party’s HYMNS out today

HYMNS is the fifth studio album, and their first in four years, from Miloco alumni Bloc Party who have worked on past albums such as Intimacy and A Weekend In The City with us. This is the first album with the band’s revamped line up, featuring new bassist Justin Harris and drummer Louise Bartle who joined original members, guitarist Russell Lissack and frontman Kele Okereke.

The entire album was written in The Bridge with engineer Ben Jackson, who programmed, engineered and mixed all the demos and went on to engineer the final cut of the album closer, ‘Living Lux’.

“Kele, Russell and me spent about a year demo’ing and trying out different sounds,” Ben says. “We were mainly in The Bridge with a few times at Livingston 2 and The Bunker. We loved the vibe in The Bridge, we did Kele’s previous solo record there and it’s just so flexible to work in.”

During the writing stage, Ben used a combination of Logic and Pro Tools. For all of Kele’s vocals he used a valve Neumann U47 into the API 7600 channel strip. For the guitars Ben used Russell’s pedal board through the Neve 1073 channel strip into the Distressor.

Given Bloc Party was formed 17 years ago, it’s only natural that their sound has evolved and matured, particularly after going on hiatus four years ago, leaving the band’s future in doubt. Steering away from their familiar punk sound, this is the most electronic we’ve ever heard the band. The album opens with the comeback single ‘The Love Within’, it’s a fun pop track with distorted synths that could make you dizzy. But this doesn’t set the tone for the album, switching gears to a more mellow speed

Of the strong electronic sound of the album, Ben says, “everyone keeps saying they can’t hear the guitars, but that’s all there is. All those synth sounds are actually Russell’s guitar.”

With titles like ‘Only He Can Hear Me’ and ‘The Good News’ the track list reads like a gospel album, and deliberately so. Okereke has said that he is not religious, but increasingly spiritual and HYMNS  is his exploration of all the things he holds sacred in his life. Musically he works this in with the use of gospel choirs, atmospheric synths and sighing chords that are soothing but not uninteresting.

HYMNS is out on iTunes or can be streamed here.


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