Remember when you first heard people gushing about British rock act Bloc Party in the mid 2000s? They were hailed as this game-changing indie band playing a punk-new wave hybrid that was energetic, infectious, and plain freaking awesome. You didn’t quite know then what such a thing would sound like, but as soon as you heard Kele Okereke shout through early Bloc Party numbers as guitars danced off each other and drums burst convulsively in the background, you said to yourself, “THIS IS MY JAM, YO!”
That was then. Over the span of their four-album career, the four-piece composed of Okereke, lead guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist Gordon Moakes, and drummer Matt Tong changed musical gears so markedly that it’s safe to assume that some older fans were lost along the way. And if it weren’t for Okereke’s heavily accented singing, some newer fans probably wouldn’t be able to tell a pre-2007 Bloc Party tune if it hit them on the head with a spastic drumbeat.
As the Brit indie rockers get ready to perform in Manila for the first time on March 22, Friday at the World Trade Center, it’s time you brushed up on your Bloc Party listening! Here, we list seven songs that represent the changing faces of Bloc Party, which will serve you well if you’re a new fan who’s just beginning to get familiar with the band’s trajectory, or a casual fan who knows—gasp!—only, like, two songs by them. (Your secret’s safe with us.)
“Banquet” (Silent Alarm, 2005)
The first single off Silent Alarm is a metaphor for how Bloc Party blasted into indie fans’ consciousness with their breakthrough debut in 2005: urgently, unabashedly, and unapologetically. With other high-octane highlights such as “Helicopter” and “Like Eating Glass” filling the album, Bloc Party quickly became the act to drop in conversation to make you look instantly edgy: “Have you heard of Bloc Party? They’re my favorite band right now.” Mission accomplished.
“The Prayer” (A Weekend in the City, 2007)
Two years later, Bloc Party returned with a new album that played like the wiser, more sedate older brother to Silent Alarm’s bratty, unruly teen. Gone was the raw post-punk confidence of their debut, and in its place was a more polished, more melodic, and more thoughtful disposition that welcomed electronic production, as you can hear on the cracking first single “The Prayer”. While some critics and early fans frowned at this departure from their Silent Alarm style, Bloc Party still made a killing with the record, with “The Prayer” becoming their highest-charting single worldwide.
“Flux” (A Weekend in the City, 2007 and Intimacy, 2008)
Later in 2007, Bloc Party released the single “Flux,” which appeared as a bonus track on the re-release of A Weekend in the City and on the North American edition of their follow-up, Intimacy. Where “The Prayer” only hinted at a newfound penchant for electronic sounds, “Flux” is a full-on, high-BPM dance track with synths, drum loops, and yes, Auto-Tune—that same recording gimmick that earned T-Pain the ire of music snobs worldwide.
“Mercury” (Intimacy, 2008)
With “Flux” serving as a sign of things to come, true enough, Bloc Party dove even deeper into techno territory with their third album, Intimacy. In fact, the refrain to Intimacy’s first single, “Mercury”—in which Okereke repeatedly yelps “Mercury’s in retrograde”—sticks to your noggin precisely because it’s been chopped, looped, and processed so profusely.
NEXT: Bloc returns with new album, Four
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