FT5: Disappointing Albums Of 2008

In 2008 we saw all kinds of releases across the board. Noise-pop seemed to be a pretty big deal, as did lo-fi production. But when preparing for our year-end lists, we came across the conundrum of deciding the biggest disappointments in 2008. Today’s Friday Top 5 is full of albums that our staff really looked forward to listening to when they were released, but instead fled in fear as to what our ears had just heard. List is after the jump

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Bloc Party – Intimacy

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Several years back, Silent Alarm blew us away. It’s angular guitars cut and diced as we all spun in awe of the newest British band to hit the states. Our minds spinning, we salivated at the chance for more Bloc Party. All I can ask for at this very moment is no more Bloc Party.

Two albums after their debut, they’ve weighed me down with their efforts to recreate that original brilliance, and I’ve got few nice things to say about these boys. In all honesty, this album has left me to encourage them to hang up their hats… call it a day boys.

The opening track doesn’t do anything to prepare the listener for the barrage of trash that is to come their way, except to offer the lyric that “this s**t is long.” Too long indeed. Sprawling guitars matched with little music creativity push my fingers to fast forward beyond this useless noise.

Once you arrive at the second track its clear that the band have taken on an entirely new direction. Intimacy‘s production lacks the exciting percussive sound that they established long ago, instead mixing in what one can only assume are digital drum samples… and do I hear horns? At this point in my listening experience I’m not sure what to say. Speechless.

However, there is some exciting guitar work on the third song, “Halo,” but it’s so muddled in the mix of the song that it almost disappoints you to hear the promise of this band’s sound being watered down by shoddy engineering. And that is thrown immediately into one of the worst songs the band has written. “Biko” not only lacks any passion, but there isn’t even a trace of real musicianship in this song. I think they might have looped the guitars. Gross.

Bloc Party, however, just continue to push on, angering me with each new track. I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but whoever covered all of these songs in walls of noise, and I don’t mean precious ambience… I mean ridiculous noise, obviously had a few too many pints. The album is lacking a certain clarity, which is where it lost me. Skeletal song structures have promise, but the level of noise deems almost every moment of promise useless.

They’ve piled on loads of electronic samples into this album, which doesn’t really do them any favors. Their strength was always in the dueling guitar work, but once they strip that away, they don’t have much to offer us anymore. All the passion they once threw our way has been lost in new directions. I only wish they knew about the power of guitars, since they fail to use them often enough on this album.

By the end of the album, I just feel like I’ve been drained of every drop of social niceties. There isn’t a decent thing to say about this album at the end of the day. Some have indicated that the latter half offers a touch of redemption, but in all honesty, the latter half is equally as aggravating as the first half. Bloc Party have discarded their musicianship for an electronically fused album, and in the process they have discarded the majority of their adoring fans.