Bloc Party’s Alpha Games: What You Need to Know
Since returning from hiatus in 2016 with their fifth studio album Hymns, complete with a new rhythm section in bassist Justin Harris and drummer Louise Bartle, post-punk quartet Bloc Party embarked on a tour playing their Mercury Prize-nominated debut album Silent Alarm in full – one that proved so popular with audiences that it was extended through 2018 and into the following year.
Between that and the pandemic a follow-up has taken a little longer to emerge than fans might’ve hoped, but this week Bloc Party return with a brand new album Alpha Games, which makes it arrival in our stores this Friday (April 29). Here’s everything you need to know…
A little background…
Word that the band were working on a new album came all the way back in January 2022 via a message posted on frontman Kele Okereke’s social media profiles, but no doubt as a result of the various lockdowns it was more than a year later, in September 2021, before the band posted a tracklist for the new LP, hinting that their sixth album was nearing completion.
In November Bloc Party finally unveiled the first new track from the album in the form of lead single ‘Traps’, alongside the title and release date for their sixth full-length offering.
Who’s producing it?
Nick Launay and Adam Greenspan are listed as the album’s producers, both of whom have worked together with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire, among others.
Any special guests?
No guest performers, no, although Alpha Games is billed as the first Bloc Party album to feature significant songwriting input from Harris and Bartle.
What does it sound like?
Lead single ‘Traps’ is a good indicator of what to expect here and one of the highlights on the new album, its driving riff sounding just as urgent as anything on Silent Alarm – a promising sign that the band has lost none of its potency. There are others here too that hark back to their early days, especially on ‘Callum is a Snake’ and the opening track ‘Day Drinker’
‘By Any Means Necessary’ is propelled by a driving beat that edges close to disco, while ‘Rough Justice’ is another of the album’s bangers that veers off into something a little more menacing, swelling to a grinding, guitar-led climax. Elsewhere there are lush melodies and expansive textures to be found on ‘Of Things Yet to Come’ and even hints of glam rock on ‘The Girls are Fighting’.
Does it deliver?
Whether it’s the input from the new members or some other unseen factor, on Alpha Games Bloc Party sound fresh and revitalised, refining and distilling their sound while still evolving and expanding into something bigger. They sound as good here as they ever have, we only hope we don’t have to wait another six years for more.
Alpha Games is available in hmv stores now - you can also find it here in our online store.