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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Track of the Moment: Pioneers by Bloc Party

If you played Guitar Hero 3, listened to alternative radio in 2005, or like good music, you’ve probably heard Bloc Party, but may not know them by name. Their song "Helicopter" still gets occasional play time, and is just a fun, punk-rock song that brought them into the lime light.

To me, they’re one of the bands that got the indie rock ball rolling with the extreme popularity of their debut album Silent Alarm. Hailing from Britain, they draw heavily on acts like The Smiths, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, and The Cure, leading to ballads filled with sad lyrics, soft yet slightly abrasive guitars and humming synth, with a sweet drum beat pulling it all together.

Now, Mark and I got into a bit of scuffle about what genre to throw them under. According to Wikipedia (an always reliable source), Bloc Party is new wave, to which I politely disagreed with a series of expletives. I would classify them under the even broader category of indie rock, but, given their influences and general sound, they may also fall under equally broad title of post-punk. Either way, I’ll let one of my favorite songs from the album speak for the band.

“Pioneers” is a classic. While it only enjoyed moderate success on the UK charts, it should stand as Bloc Party’s best song, especially for a band whose first record should have produced at least 5 or 6 top 5 singles. The opening guitar notes echoing puts you on edge, waiting for the song to get going. Then the rhythm guitar comes in, then Kele’s vocals come in, almost pleading with who I imagine is a girlfriend who wants to break up with him. But the chorus features a response to this pleading with a simple “We promised the world we’d tame it/what we were hoping for?”, giving the song so much emotional power, especially with Kele’s delivery. And the primal drum beat featuring a lot of tom-toms and bass and few cymbal crashes really helps give the song a sense of controlled anger. But my favorite part is the ending – Kele is singing “We will not be the last”, but, due to his British accent, it sounds like ‘We will not be the lost”, which really helps to punctuate the themes and meaning of the song. It’s just a fantastic track that anyone who enjoys music should listen to. 

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