Friday, 11 November 2016

Young Legionnaire: Zero Worship

It was hard to believe that Young Legionnaire would write a follow up album to 2011’s Crisis Works that was better, or even just as good. A part of me believed it could be just as good, but second albums rarely hit the same nail on the head with as much precision. Thankfully the band haven’t even tried hitting the same nail and instead have left the indie feel of the début behind and gone for more of an alternative rock focus (though, to be be fair, much of Crisis Works was more Alternative than it was Indie – if that even means anything). This is a blessing in disguise, because it means they get to take some of the harder and heavier riffs that were at times less focussed on Crisis Works and infuse them with a Muse-like heaviness appropriate to the album. ‘Mortgage Rock’ from Crisis Works is more in line with what this new album is about, though also there’s a bit more focus on production as well.

‘Year Zero’ is a fine opener that cements themes, but also showing that this rock band can use their instruments to produce an Electronic vibe. The scrappiness of ‘Twin Victory’ and ‘Numbers’ can be found in ‘Heart Attack’, though in this one song there is also the low ebb that can be found in ‘Chapter, Verse’, but where ‘Chapter, Verse’ felt unnecessarily drawn out (at 5:16), ‘Heart Attack’ keeps it’s length concise and to the point allowing the odd time signature to thump out the chords and drag you through on it’s own.

‘Hail, Hail’ isn’t a cover of the Pearl Jam song and it doesn’t quite hit any high points until the 3-4 section – which is reminiscent of Shellac’s ‘QRJ’ – interrupts. Fortunately it is still good. In fact, it is consistently good, which pretty much serves as it’s own high point.
‘Simone’ is a tender song about the process of losing someone close, perhaps in a relationship, and later on ‘You and Me’ reconciles this loss with acceptance.

‘Candidate’ brings the staccato guitar and vocals, with rumbling bass underneath and another heavy riff interruption. Right when ‘Sawn-Off Shotgun’ feels like it added nothing to the poundingly heavy guitar attack and went by without even being noticed, ‘You and Me’ brings in the acoustic guitar to start the song off and replaces it with barely noticeable electrics again. This song is the calmest and most subtle with instruments working together as the song details regret and coming to terms with how a relationship has changed: “And I promise next time things will be different…”

‘Disappear’, the first single, ends up feeling the most like a song from Crises Works – remove most of the production and it would fit on Crisis Works no problem. On first listening to the album, ‘Disappear’ feels a little lacklustre – not so much the songs fault, but more at this point, it feels too similar to other songs. It is still a good song, but it doesn’t quite hit any highlights and here might have been a great chance to bring back some acoustics in the verses to add that much needed variety. In fact, I’d go as far to say, as my own personal preference, here is a song that I’d much rather hear in a full acoustic setting. ‘There Will Be An Escape Hatch’ is a sombre finale with softly pounding drums – the entire song reminds me a lot of We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Variety without tonal shifts are everything when it comes to helping an album feel like one unified whole and the album uses the wide ranging guitar riffs and time signatures to do this. What is missing from Zero Worship is the catchy chorus’s that catapulted songs like ‘These Arms’ into stratospheric flights of memorability. On the other hand, where Crisis Works relied mostly on the three band member set up and only added a second guitar track or backing vocals with some subtlety, Zero Worship takes this to a logical progression by focusing more on the soundscape and increasing the guitar and vocal layering with some subtle touches of reverb. Though an increase in production technique can at times feel a little overwhelming, especially when wondering if compression is an issue (on this album it’s definitely not), what really stands out is the fact that all three band members continue to be heard: from Paul Mullen’s distinct vocals and guitar playing, Gordon Moakes individual bass lines, and Dean Pearson’s solid, fluid, and never boring drumming – though perhaps the drums feel the weakest in terms of being heard through the guitar layering.

Overall, I feel that the album is so consistent in it’s quality, that it actually lacks a stand out track (they are all pretty awesome tracks!). And maybe this is just a personal qualm: there seems to be no ‘A Hole in the World’ that will serve as a template for my feelings in this part of my life right now, though either ‘Simone’ or ‘You and Me’ might just be that song for another person; no ‘Mortgage Rock’ that encapsulates everything I love about Hard Rock while still being firmly in the Alternative/Indie Rock camp, though the staccato guitars, drawn out vocals and catchy chorus of ‘Hospital Corners’ does well to bring me close.

If there’s one major complaint, it’s that the songs don’t really develop a great deal, if at all. Songs start and then end without much happening in between other than what you’ve already been hearing. Now, this isn’t just about dynamics, ups and downs, quiets and louds, it’s also about melodic shape, vocal tones, and chord changes. Often songs start and the vocals stay at the same register, chords often don’t feel like they’ve moved away from the initial harmony set-up – ‘Hail, Hail’ and ‘Sawn-Off Shotgun’ being major culprits of this. This is why I feel that ‘Disappear’ could have been on the previous album – the verse feels like a verse, the chorus feels like a chorus. While that’s not me saying “I just want standard song structures, please!” – you know me, I listen to Tool, Shellac and lots of Classical music – it’s the fact that often the songs haven’t done anything else once they’ve hit their end and there’s no breathing space in between. My favourite track from Crisis Works ‘A Hole in the World’ takes a catchy guitar riff and begins building the song up through verses without a chorus appearing until well past the half-way mark, and never returning to the verse after that moment. So what you get is: Intro/verse/verse/chorus/post-chorus/solo/chorus. A great build up of dynamics accompany this song structure – none of this inventiveness is present on Zero Worship, despite the polyrhythmic crossing of 3-4 (bass and drums) and 4-4 (guitar) in ‘Hail, Hail’s breakdown section, the title track’s nervous guitars exploding into frustrated choruses. If there had been some more melodic variety, if there had also been some more acoustic variety – even just acoustic guitar outside of that one place in that one song – this album would have easily hit a perfect score. I can’t help love, and come to love, every song on this album, but my objective criticism is that I can’t see it lasting long before the familiarity wears a little thin.

If you’re interested in the lyrics and themes of the album, please read Gordon Moakes’ Medium article about how the ideas came together and what drove the making of the album: Making Music About the End of Music.

The ‘Zero Worship’ theme running through the album is pointedly about not following orders, the cover being a middle-finger to corporate life, beautifully packaged on an independent album financed entirely through a pledge music project making it a success without the financial backing of a corporation. Considering the state of current affairs, this album feels timely, and is a reminder of where worshipping with thoughtless devotion can lead a populace.

With all this in mind, Young Legionnaire’s second album Zero Worship without a doubt is great, it deserves to be listened to and supported, it’s themes are current while also timeless in their concerns for humanity and the individual. But if the world’s masses don’t get to hear the touchingly beautiful ‘You and Me’ then it will be a great loss to many starving eardrums.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Final Position of Power, and why the law continues to fail at creating justice

What is the ‘final position of power’?


I do not defend anybody for attacking another person unless they are being attacked themselves and a form of defence has been determined to be necessary to fight back with. But when the person who ends up with the final amount of control has been established, that person – the person who has all the control – is the person who determines the outcome. This is the person who decides safety or vulnerability, care or abuse, and in some cases life or death. This is what it means to have the 'final position of power' – to determine the outcome.

If you are the person in that position, the one who is able to maintain control over another person, then you are responsible for the outcomes, you are responsible for that person’s welfare, you are responsible for whether that person can at some point move forward into a safe place on their own or not. If you leave them in a place of vulnerability and risk of death, then you are responsible for having done that because you had the control to place them somewhere safer.

When our laws begin acknowledging these positions of power and begin enforcing sentences relating to not taking responsibility, not taking the appropriate steps to help a human being, not attempting to place the not-in-control-person in the safest place possible when the person in the final position of power has the ability to do so, then justice as it is meant to be dealt will bear the fruits of success. Teachers and parents can educate about responsibility with the law actually backing them up, instead of contradicting the messages of responsibility as it currently does.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Justice Betrayed, Victims Forgotten...


I am truly disgusted with New Zealand's justice system. If we cared more for the victims of attacks, we would have justice serving them and not the attacker, we would believe that justice is relevant only to the actions committed, not by who the people are who committed them, or what their future prospects are. In the end, we all have future prospects, we all have career possibilities - does that also mean that anyone who has a contract that can bring in money to an organisation will get away with brutally attacking four individuals and gloating over the bruised and battered bodies afterwards just like Losi Philipo did in October of 2015?

A human being must be held responsible for the actions they have committed and therefore deal with the consequences of those actions – did nobody teach this to the Judge who presided over Filipo’s case? To allow a human being to get away with four assault charges on four other human beings is quite simply not asking the perpetrator to be responsible for their actions, and thus not to truly deal with the consequences of those actions. It is extremely shameful to see Losi Filipo “say” that he he is remorseful yet commit to no actions that would be evidence of remorse – does Filipo have enough guts to step down from playing rugby for the same length of time that his victim is unable to play rugby? Even more shameful that he has not expressed this so called remorse himself in public as far as I'm aware, and had a spokesperson to do it for him. Is this the example of our future rugby players - cowardice?

Let me ask some other questions:
  • Will Losi Filipo's contract with the Wellington Lions pay compensation for any surgery, therapy, etc., of the victims?
  • If Losi Filipo is truly remorseful will he volunteer to give back to the victims what he took away in whatever way is suitable?


A question for New Zealanders:
  • Will we stand by and do nothing as our Judge's make exceptions for celebrities and sports stars?


These victims are brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters – they could be family to any one of us. If we allow the Justice System to continue committing miscarriages of justice, then we allow the potential for further assaults to be committed without any consequence.

Are we going to ask the Judge to step down from duty because he has not served the interest of the victims first, the community second, and the aggressor third by demanding that they receive the full force of the law and deal with the consequences of their actions?

Does the NZ Rugby Union care only for money and ratings to allow an aggressive abuser to continue playing with the audience of many young and impressionable children and teens watching?


What are we the parents, educators, and caregivers to children and youth supposed to say when it is clear that if you are a sports star, you can get away with brutal assaults on other New Zealanders?

I would like some answers please, because I don't know what to do. I don't know what I can do. And I certainly don't know how to tell students to be responsible and deal with the consequences of their actions, when case after case is presented where perpetrators of assault don't have to do the same.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Adulthood

We still labour under ridiculous concepts of the past, from virginity, to intellectualism; but nothing can bring a person into true adulthood except their own sense of self and the personal responsibility that accompanies that.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Feminism has to be a movement of equity in order to bring equality.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Mabel Bush Returns [guitar pro 6] is a new song I've written. It's kind of a reprise to the previous blues song I wrote, aptly titled 'Mabel Bush Blues'

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Nobody should be anything other than what they make of themselves.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Video game idea/mechanic

Weapons - i.e. swords - start out blunt, so slashing at an opponent and slowly taking down their health incrementally works in a real-world sense as though you are just brutally beating the person down until they cave from being the one with the most damage. As upgrades and better weapons arrive, the opponent begins getting real-world damage like cuts and possible amputation depending on the quality of the weapon. At this point the opponents also rise in skill and are better at defending themselves. Enemies start losing their "damage sponge" quality and become serious opponents who can one-shot you, which also demands that you as a player become better at defending yourself.

The implementation of this needs to be quite a gradual learning curve as each new enemy will be a lesson in either strategic attacking or strategic defence. The goal is to make third-person mêlée combat far more dynamic by adding realism.

This idea is derived from seeing so many fantasy-based games treating swords and their ilk as mere batons that have different levels of damage and the enemies themselves not being affected by the actual real-word concept of that weapon, e.g. a sword stabbing or cutting an actual hole in someone.

An argument against this might be the idea that combat could end up very short at later stages of the game if all it took was one correct swing to connect and cut an enemy in half. Realistically, the sword would probably only slash a gaping hole, but the enemy would still go down because of it.
     An answer to this, is to make the later stage enemies very good at defence, and make the swords themselves degrade as steel connects on steel.

Friday, 24 June 2016

2016

I couldn't be this person in their lives. I had to be me in my own life.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Ladyhawke: Wild Things

It almost feels like 2008’s hit ‘My Delirium’ was a mistake. Driven by a simple yet catchy guitar lick, the song took off into Pop Rock heaven, yet the rest of Ladyhawke’s début album seemed to ignore the direction of that radio-friendly gem to make a case for synth-keyboards and beats instead. When New Zealanders got the opportunity to hear her new single (first!) a few weeks back from the follow-up album Wild Things, I was excited to hear what the Masterton-born Kiwi had in store for us on her second album – more rock or more …
What?
...Urghh
Sorry … Did you say something?
...Her follow-up album.
What about it?
...Umm, Wild Things is her third album.
Are you serious?
...Yeah.
Really?
...Yeah.
I guess I should go and listen to the follow-up album then. 
Yeah.


Boy, did Anxiety completely pass the world by (or at least my part of the world). And with good reason too. While the first couple of songs start out promisingly with strong pop beat sensibilities, the rest of the album seems to struggle to find itself and has a tendency to lean heavily on ripping melodic fragments off from The Cure (‘Sunday Drive’). When the song ‘Cellophane’ comes along one can’t help wondering why there isn’t more guitar present as the arrangement’s dynamics are what attempt to propel the song while the guitars get buried by uninteresting synth. One of the great virtues of using a guitar in pop music is that it really stands out, especially if you have a riff that can be hammered out to drive the song home – something that ‘Sunday Drive’ definitely needed more of and could have made that song the follow-up hit that Ladyhawke needed (so idiots like me would know that there was a second album out!). ‘Cellophane’ in the same respect – quite a fantastic song – lacks any real dynamics, any real variety …
Okay, enough.
Onto the review of the new album. The third album.
So what does this all mean for Ladyhawke’s 2016 release Wild Things?
The album takes the synth route again.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with first single ‘A Love Song’ when Ladyhawke aired the song to her New Zealand brethren first on national television, though on subsequent listening it certainly has much to like about it. It’s a simple song that does nothing special but will be likeable for anyone who likes this brand of under-the-radar pop. ‘The River’ attempts to compete with another local singer-songwriter, Brooke Fraser, for metaphors about water and rivers, though Fraser’s ‘Something in the Water’ has so much more natural instrumentation with pop hooks appearing in every part of the song – verses, chorus, and bridges. This is essentially what’s missing from the entire Wild Things album. It’s not like there aren’t pop hooks, but much of it is derivative, and those that stand out are only one part of the song while other parts fall flat.
All over, the album feels a little homogeneous. And not just in the vocals, but in the over-reliance on one production technique. For an artist who used to bang out her pre-Ladyhawke bands on the guitar, and had her biggest hit with a guitar driven song, the one instrument that could have made this album more dynamic and interesting to listen to is at times buried or completely missing.
‘A Love Song’ and ‘The River’ start the album off on a really strong catchy pop-note, where the title song slows the tempo down with heart-warming pines of love. ‘Let it Roll’ is the highlight that gets everything right, even if the guitar is still relegated to just bridge colouring. An infectious beat, a bass groove, all propelling the song towards the chorus. ‘Chills’ is almost a direct rip-off of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ in the verses while ‘Sweet Fascination’ continues taking the same cues but lacks the propulsive groove and quirky but endearing vocal approach. ‘Golden Girl’ inserts some of that Brooke Fraser acoustic guitar (or is it ukulele? ...I think it’s ukulele) in the chorus lifting the song from being just a synth-fest and adding a touch of fun.
Lyrically the entire album is an ode to falling deeply in love. Luckily it isn’t soppy and boring, but is actually uplifting and joyous which translates to the music with fruitful results, but a lack of vocal and instrument variation can really cause the songs to drag at the halfway mark. Wild Things is a good pop album, though it doesn’t stand out, but at least it’s a huge step up from the second album and almost reaches the same simple but easy fun of the début.

Friday, 3 June 2016


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Cello Suite - by W. Stubbs


This is the Cello Suite I composed between teaching from about August through to December at the end of 2015. The music progresses from a simple Gigue in 4 to a gentle Cantabile movement, before taking on some modern flavouring from the pop and rock world. The fourth movement contrasts with two alternating time signatures that develop a G minor broken chord figure before launching into a more-or-less free-form development in the fifth movement of the same theme but in a Heavy Metal style (I composed most of it on guitar as though I was playing a Metal riff).

 I. Gigue
 II. Cantabile
 III. Spiccato
 IV. Allegro Agitato
 V. Heavy Metal Riffage

Saturday, 20 February 2016

New Keepers of the Water Towers: Infernal Machine


The word ‘infernal’ refers to Hell. When someone is a nuisance, irritating or tiresome, they can be an infernal nuisance thus representing a hellish experience for you, and thus any hellish experience can be described with the word ‘infernal’.
So too can a particularly boring and insufferable experience. I’ve often thought of grinding through heavy games such as Diablo in this vein. Apparently Diablo III is super easy in this respect. Who knows. I’m confident I’d still find it boring.
Infernal Machine feels like a machine that spat out ideas without any focus, stuck in it’s own hell of second-hand parts. There are moments when you hear good ideassurf rock’s lead slides and rhythm track chromatics (‘Tracks Over Carcosa’) – but these good ideas never go anywhere or become more interesting, and the productions not big enough to drive home dynamics that seem to just happen without any build up or force.
‘The Forever War’ is aptly named because it takes forever to get anywhere, and if you can allow yourself to be dragged along for the first five minutes, I’d be impressed if you make it another four at which point the guitar finally breaks out of its annoyingly picked chord figure, lasting a mere fraction of the time and making you wonder where the rest of that lead break went.
Maybe a black hole.

Neither the rhythm nor the lead work is interesting or catchy enough to sustain attention – and at least one of those needs to be to allow the listener greater pleasures. Most tracks will pass without you even noticing them, which, in one respect, could make great background music you don’t have to pay any attention to.
Tachyon Deep’ focusses more on a bongo rhythm which is a great enjoyable contrast without diverting from the band sound. Passing the halfway mark, bigger drumming seeps in and the guitar distorts away from the sustained notes, but the song never reaches any true climax, and the final chord stabs aren’t convincing enough.
In many ways this is my kind of music – stoner rock via prog and space rock with some sprinklings of surf rock. It all sounds like it’d be a good, if not interesting, mix. It is a good mix, it’s just that the ideas never rise above bog standard. I can honestly say that I like what the band is attempting, but if anything, the shortest ‘song’ (tracks are mostly instrumental with some dreary vocals moaning here and there) at a mere two minutes displays aptly what they can’t do with the simplest of ideas. ‘Escape Aleph Minor’ and the following tracks want to invoke Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma but without any of the crazy. There’s a sense of serenity at times, and there are moments of doom, but neither feel like they’ve been created through the shear abandonment of the soul towards musical ends. It all feels too safe at times.

This album has more of the feel of a band exploring music without solidifying or editing any ideas. It’s almost what I imagine Tool might sound like during rehearsals when they first start rehearsing riffs. The difference of course is that Tool spend time (actual time within the space/time continuum) working on and developing those ideas; Infernal Machine sounds like neither of those two events took place and New Keepers of the Water Towers just shrugged their shoulders and said “yeah, that’ll do.” It’s not like any of that’s particularly bad, I just can’t imagine someone who actually enjoys this album would come back for extended periods of listening.
Maybe you need to be stoned out of your brain to enjoy this music, or surfing on an acid trip; I don’t know and I don't do drugs anymore, and I'm not going to either just so I can get more out of this album.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Bloc Party: Hymns


A lot of thoughts crossed my mind while listening to this album, all of which I was going to write up.
...None of which I wrote down.1
  • If you wanted more songs like ‘This Modern Love’ here they are...
  • There’s a specific hard rock Bloc Party riff that can be identified in songs like ‘Helicopter’, ‘Hunting for Witches’, and ‘One Month Off’...
  • There's something gospel about this album...
And other stuff like that.

It will be easy for rock fans to dismiss this album. And I can already hear the dissenters yelling "the party's over!" But what they dismiss is what they fail to recognise.
        Where Four was a bit of a mess – ideas undeveloped, throwaway riffs at the forefront, noise for noise’s sake – Hymns is a calm affair, pursuing light rock that’s about as far from anything anyone expected after getting the mixture of music that comprises the dance orientated ‘Flux’ and ‘One More Chance’ singles, the Four album where it felt like they were attempting to get back to how they began, and the The Nextwave Sessions EP where who-the-fuck-knows what was happening. (Okay, to be fair, we saw The Nextwave Sessions coming after hearing the first two songs on Intimacy, and those songs being followed through with ‘Octopus’...)

‘The Love Within’, which opens the album like a relaxed version of both 'Octopus' (Four) and 'Ratchet' (The Nextwave Sessions), begins with a direct quote from A Weekend in the City’s ‘The Prayer’, the first line of both songs being “Lord give me grace and dancing feet” as though that’s your insight into this album: It’s about grace.
        And forgiveness.
        There’s a strong sense of religiosity that flows through these tracks without being overtly devotional. While it’s befitting of the album title, it’s also appropriate that the title is Hymns as the songs musically provide the backdrop for Okereke’s pleas towards a saving grace, whether that be God or a physical partner seems irrelevant. Okereke sings “For only he can heal me with his touch, help me overcome it” in the second song. Here the backing vocals repeat the title like they were a gospel rock choir and the guitars bring some chorus contrast during the break.
        The most lyrically devotional perhaps is the song ‘The Good News’: “I used to find my answers in the gospels of St John, now I find them at the bottom of this shot glass. Everyday I’d go down to the water and I’d pray since you left me that way. Oh Lord I’m trying to keep my sights on the good news that’s in my heart.” Meanwhile the music and melodies keep the vibe positive to reinforce the meaning behind all of it.

That positivity is what is overt, however. And while that will be off-putting for some, others will move with it and discover that the catchy vocal lines that are present in the best of Bloc Party’s work are also present on this album.
        It will just be unfortunate if those who dismiss this album view that positivity as emotionless. But that is simply mistaking depression, problems, or heartbreak, as the only emotions. Okereke is never dispassionate in anything he sings. The emotion is always there and regardless of whether you like this album or not, that has to be acknowledged – in no way does it lack emotion. Perhaps it lacks the raw emotion of a brand new band carving it up on the indie front – sure it lacks that – but that’s because the band isn’t brand new anymore, to expect that is idiotic. This is why Four feels like it never really works – even the second album was a much tighter affair. But here Okereke sings just as passionately to all his exes that he has left behind – “All these words will fall short, but I must try.” The sincerity is almost heartbreaking.

If you need one song from the previous albums that works as a reference point for what appears on Hymns, that song would be ‘Real Talk’ from the previous full length Four. The unfortunate part is that ‘Real Talk’, as simple and gentle as it is, still has a propulsive rhythm section that pushes the song underneath Kele Okereke’s heart-felt vocals. With the departure of super-drummer Matt Tong, who provided an abundance of energy on previous albums with erratic beats, and the quitting of Gordon Moakes, whose unobtrusive bass lines subtly knew when not to play and when to push their weight from underneath, Bloc Party no longer has those two elements that lifted up mediocre songs and propelled great songs to greatness.
        Russell Lissack’s guitars have been stripped of all their distortion – no more pounding out big riffs, though sometimes those riffs still peak their eyes out with a clean guitar tone (‘So Real’), while ‘The Good News’ chorus brings back the blues inspired riffs first heard at the beginning of ‘Coliseum’ (Four). Backing vocals consistently provide an uplifting feel despite the sometimes downer lyrics. And this is the album all over: where songs like Intimacy’s ‘Better than Heaven’ lament the loss with electronics, soaring vocals, and bitter lyrics that would build to a culmination of full band dynamics, textures on Hymns remain thin with atmospheric guitars, keys, and vocals that are questioning rather than angry and only occasionally rise to soar, but in these cases (‘A Different Drug’) they soar on their own. When the spirit lifts (‘Into the Earth’) clean indie pop takes over and the feel of acceptance pervades the lyrics – “Into the earth our bodies will go” – as the melody remains happy and the beat gently grooves.

        On this album the music never takes centre stage, as the lyrical themes of finding peace and moving on seem to be the focus. While that’s highly understandable considering the topics, it’s also a problem. Louise Bartle’s drums are there, but they are never really there; Justin Harris' bass is so far down in the mix you'll barely notice that there's a bass at all. The rhythm section sits in the background, tidy, polite – too polite. While this doesn’t necessarily detract from the musicians' abilities, it does speak more for the album being a Kele Okereke affair rather than a fully fledged band album.

        The one song that gets closest to their pre-Silent Alarm EP era is the song ‘My True Name’ with it’s clean guitar intro, but suddenly it takes on a heavy synth backing that feels ripped straight out of the 80s New Wave era. It is one of the stronger songs on the album, and there is something undoubtly powerful about how they have chosen to use this influence. With moments like this, it’s clear they will never truly “go back” to being the indie rock band that won so many people's hearts with their hybrid of dance and rock, but there will always be hints. You might hear a guitar riff here, a vocal line there, but with a new drummer and bassist, those frantic beats and rhythms are gone.

There’s a catchiness to the music that isn’t immediately noticeable, and is what those who have given up after a first listen will never discover; others will latch on to the straight forward beats and allow the music to wash over them as it is meant to do, rather than knocking them over like much of Bloc Party’s previous albums were wont to do.
         We’ll probably never hear songs as powerful as ‘Like Eating Glass’ and ‘Banquet’ again, or be bowled over by heavy riffs like ‘One Month Off’ and the desperation of ‘Talons’. But that’s okay, because those song are there to listen to whenever we want. Hymns deserves to be appreciated for being brave enough to wear both the pop influences and gospel inspirations on it’s sleeves, and to continue the progression of a band trying something new and different.



1 Except that sentence. I did write that sentence down! Well, technically I spoke it. I spoke it into my memo app on my cell phone as I drove down the highway listening to this album. Shut up. Don't judge me.