Text: Shannon van Eis

Ambition, corruption and desire. According to Bloc Party, Alpha Games is a return to the sound of their older work. Thinking ahead, but with a nod to the energy of the past. This is the first album written in the format we know today. After the release of Hymns in 2016, we didn’t hear much from the four-piece post-punk/art rock band from London. The record was produced by Nick Launay and Adam Greenspan, who have collaborated on releases by Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and IDLES.

Opener of the record is ‘Day Drinker’. After a short drum roll, we are immediately taken into the dynamic guitar riffs and fierce vocals we are used to from frontman Kele Okereke. Traps’ is the first single introduced this year, and what a single it is. It proves what the band has to offer. Catchy, but also a bit aggressive and screeching.

“Pupils are dilated, you love it or you hate it” is the lyric of the song ‘Rough Justice’, a song that especially in the beginning reminds of the liveliness of bands like IDLES. What first starts off as a set of building up drum parts and synthesizers, soon turns into a fierce guitar part. Rough Justice’ turns out to be self-written: a song about well-mannered and glamorous people with criminal connections that nobody should know about.

In ‘The Peace Offering’, also the closing track, we get to see another side of Bloc Party. With the melancholy and reverb that the guitars bring, this is like a turning point compared to the previous up-tempo songs. Surrender. “No I don’t wish you death by stinging nettles, I don’t wish you death by a thousand paper cuts. No, not anymore.”

Bassist Justin Harris is convinced this is the most evolved Bloc Party album ever. The band members may not look to the past, but they don’t look to the future much either. Alpha Games is a product of the here and now. In short: an album worth listening to from beginning to end.

Bertelsmann Music Group

Photo: Wunmi Onibudo