Since 2013 Bloc Party has certainly felt like Kele Okerekes band after both Matt Tong and Gordon Moakes left respectively. Sonically, the rapid change from the debut Silent Alarm to Four really worked for me, it felt like Okereke was making something truly emotional, out of the perfect anger that came from earlier albums. ‘Real Talk’ on Four was one of their best songs to date, with a raw and organic tone to it.
However, HYMNS feels the total opposite of this, often repetitive and quite boring. It at times feels emotionally withdrawn, and egotistical on Okereke’s part, who overemphasizes the vocals at the fault of the rest of the band. The first single and initial track off the album, ‘The Love Within’, is by far the worst song, lyrically boring and lacking the naturalness of old Bloc Party. After this it gets better. Songs such as ‘So Real’, ‘Into the Earth’ and ‘Only He Can Heal Me’ have hints of Okereke’s raw voice, and drums that made me fall in love with the band in Silent Alarm.
it is admirable that Bloc Party has made such a break from their traditional moody sound of the noughties
Ultimately, HYMNS falls flat on songs such as ‘The Good News’ and ‘Exes’. However, it is admirable that Bloc Party has made such a break from their traditional moody sound of the noughties. For long time band members Okereke and Lissack, it doesn’t need to be there, as said in ‘Into the Earth’: ‘Rock and Roll is old/Give me Neo-Soul’. They are not going to try to be something they are not. They are not the same band that formed in 1999 and no one should expect them to be.
Overall, HYMNS is a mediocre album that stays mid-tempo throughout. It has a few good songs, but lacks the imperfections of previous albums that made the band so good.