There’s a clue to Bloc Party’s radical new direction in the album title: lyrically, Hymns is a turn for the more spiritual. Out goes the angst; in come song titles such as Only He Can Heal Me and an evangelical joyousness on the likes of The Good News (although frontman Kele Okereke has denied the new material is explicitly religious). There is a parallel shift musically too. “Rock’n’roll has got so old/ Just give me neo-soul,” sings Okereke on Into the Earth, which is a fair description of the direction of travel. Where once Russell Lissack’s stinging guitar defined their sound, it now caresses, complementing his bandmates rather than fighting them. It’s a brave and successful reinvention.
Bloc Party: Hymns review – a brave and successful reinvention
Phil Mongredien works on the Guardian's opinion desk. He also reviews albums for Q magazine