Inspired by the anniversary tour for their epochal 2005 debut ‘Silent Alarm’, Bloc Party’s sixth record sees the indie legends return to their roots. Avoiding both landfill and sleaze, ‘Alpha Games’ is a love letter to their genre – but it’s one that’s viciously up to date.
Opener ‘Day Drinker’ starts with an actual drum roll before launching into duelling guitars and acrobatic vocals, while the uptempo ‘Traps’ has all the snarling energy of 2007’s indie-disco staple ‘Flux’. It’s distinctly Bloc Party, capturing the energy and the attitude that made them one of the most exciting groups to come out of that crowded ‘00s scene.
However, Alpha Games also represents the first time that this new iteration of the band have recorded an album together, with founding members Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack joined by bassist Justin Harris and drummer Louise Bartle. Okereke recently told NME: “We’re not the same band. There might be aspects of this sound that are familiar, but the chemistry is different.”
You can hear that in the grubby, synth-led ‘The Girls Are Fighting’, with its direct storytelling of a night on the lash gone wrong, while the hypnotic ‘Sex Magik’ is a euphoric, joyful anthem about a youthful summer fling. The band haven’t sounded this inspired in over a decade. Other politicised tracks, such as the jangly, guitar-led ‘You Deserve The Truth’ and the aching ‘Of Things Yet To Come’, find them working out exactly where they sit in 2022.
Influenced by the past few years of constant deceit and political turmoil (“Boris Johnson has been proved to lie and nothing has happened” Okereke said in that NME interview), there’s tangible anger across the record. ‘Callum Is A Snake’ is a venomous punk track that burns with fury, ‘Rough Justice’ indulges in character play and the swaggering ‘By Any Means Necessary’ is about attaining success at any price. Moody one moment, playful the next, it shows off the chemistry and personality of Bloc Party 2.0 perfectly.
Then there’s the tender ‘If We Get Caught’, which sees them soundtrack a good old piss-up in dark times. Striking a balance between their legacy and what comes next, it might be one of the best songs they’ve ever written. ‘Alpha Games’ sees Bloc Party still championing the ’00s scene that they came up in, but there’s not a hint of nostalgia in sight. With a renewed vigour and the desire to keep things moving, this sixth album could soundtrack a new generation of indie discos.
Release date: April 29
Record label: BMG