Fun, playful, cheeky – the London quartet have cheered up
Bloc Party aren’t very good at dealing with pressure. When the London band are up against it, they do silly things like follow up their seminal debut album, 2005’s ‘Silent Alarm’, with an anxious-sounding record like 2007’s ‘A Weekend In The City; or tell NME their bandmates are recording without them and then attempt to deny the entire conversation, as frontman Kele Okereke did in 2011. But when Bloc Party are relaxed (well, as relaxed as the notoriously po-faced quartet ever really get), they make records like last year’s visceral and forward-looking ‘Four’, which was written after a lengthy, friendship-restoring hiatus. Or records like this EP – five confused but confident tracks that constitute the band’s final release before they take another break.
‘The Nextwave Sessions’ EP careers wildly between moods and atmospheres, and sounds like a band happy to let go and experiment because they’re comfortable with who they are. Opener ‘Ratchet’ is, wait for it, fun. Full of the playfulness and cheeky winks notably absent from the Bloc Party of old, it finds Okereke spitting about wanting to get “half-cut” and “fucked up” and genuinely uses the line “Tell your bitch to get off my shit”. ‘French Exit’ is an aggressive array of staccato vocals and growling guitar lines that could easily have slotted into ‘Four’, and closer ‘Children Of The Future’ has a hopeful message: “Be all that you can be” Okereke emotes, like he really means it.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Bloc Party release without a healthy dose of depression, and ‘Obscene’ and ‘Montreal’ do their bit to lower the serotonin levels. But even in the downbeat moments, there’s a loose and seductive quality to the band’s brand of blues. It’s a shame that Bloc Party are going to disappear after an EP like this and a debut UK headlining slot at Latitude. But every now and then, slow and steady wins the race.