Eyesight. Lleyton Hewitt. Bloc Party. Some things don’t get better with age. The quality of Bloc Party releases has decreased in a palpable linear fashion over the years. As a result, along with a four-year hiatus and a new line-up, it was with trepidation that I approached their fifth album Hymns.
The good news is that Hymns is, at least, better than Bloc Party's last effort (2012's Four). The bad news is that this doesn’t exactly mean it’s a particularly good one. For the most part, it’s furiously mediocre. Hymns walks the line between sincerity and cliché perilously close, and oversteps into the latter too often.
The disco-infused opener “The Love Within” is eye-rollingly banal, which sadly sets the scene for the majority of the album. The 11 tracks pass by with very little to grab your attention. While they have never been standout lyricists, some lines, like “If there was a leaf we could smoke to meet each other, would you blaze with me?” from “Different Drugs”, are just terribly laughable. Often, it comes across as a knock-off of Blur, Radiohead, or even the latest TV On the Radio album Seeds (which, coincidentally, is also arguably their worst), without any of the flair or originality of said acts. There are some enjoyable moments (“So Real”, a crooning break-up lament, is a solid track, though not spectacular), but they don’t lift the album's cloud of mundanity.
As it appears, Hymns is another disappointing, middle-of-the-road album from a band that’s seemingly out of ideas. It would perhaps be less damning for Bloc Party’s career if it was totally dreadful rather than pastiche and forgettable; at least then we would remember it.
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