Left as a parting gift to the fans from the hiatus-bound Bloc Party, ‘The Nextwave Sessions’ clocks in five tracks recorded whilst on tour. Featuring signature experimentation, which is no surprise from a band which has prided itself on such skills, the EP inherits a somewhat distinct sense of uncertainty and familiarity in itself.
Over the years, Bloc Party have robustly shrugged off the consistent pleas to replicate their eponymous debut LP, ‘Silent Alarm’, and based their material on ambitious innovation, some releases of which have had impressive final results. ‘The Nextwave Sessions’ follows a familiar path, constructed on the basis of differing from Bloc Party‘s previous release ‘Four’, it includes tracks such as opener ‘Ratchet’, which expresses interesting and unique instrumentals. The beautiful track, and best track on the EP, ‘Montreal’, develops a comforting environment with its distant, gently picked guitar notes and careful vocals from frontman Kele Okereke as he sings “but then I tell her it’s not my home anymore”.
Although in areas Bloc Party‘s innovative skills are, once again, prominent, the EP doesn’t succeed as an overall body of work. For instance, although tracks such as ‘Ratchet’ express some interesting instrumentation, the track suffers from Okereke‘s overly centralised, individualistic vocals, as though he’s the only member who seems enthusiastic about the track.
This lack of solidarity through instrumentation seems to be surprisingly superficial, especially on the weaker tracks on the record. Drummer Matt Tong, possibly Bloc Party‘s most lethal weapon, seems rather distant throughout the EP. The lack of physical drum output, dynamic fills, and high octane tempo from Tong leaves tracks such as ‘Children Of The Future’ feeling rather tame.
Fortunately, for Bloc Party, although this EP has some overriding uncertainty musically for the best part of the material, powerful tracks such as ‘Montreal’ and ‘Obscene’ manage to stand out amongst the rest and are arguably some of Bloc Party‘s best material. ‘The Nextwave Sessions’, ultimately, provides mixed results. As a gift, this EP showcases just how brilliant Bloc Party can be and, unfortunately, how their innovation can prove to be drastically ineffective.
Written by Calv Robinson