Given their relatively unhurried attitude of late, The Nextwave Sessions EP comes relatively hot on the heels of Bloc Party’s recent comeback album Four, despite featuring tracks that have been a regular fixture of the band’s live sets for the past few months. As the four piece confirm they’ll be parting ways in the autumn on another indefinite hiatus, speculation abounds as to whether this will be their final release, or just their final release for a while.
Regardless, The Nextwave Sessions EP explores further some of the sounds touched on on Four, and marks another step in the band’s continuing journey from four-piece guitar band to a fully fledged electronic rock outfit. Opening track ‘Ratchet’ begins with a combination of machine gun cymbals , Kele Okereke’s classic ricocheting vocals and dirty synth lines – it’s Bloc Party on fine, frenetic form, delivering an indie dance floor filler up there with ‘Flux’ and ‘One More Chance’.
It’s followed by ‘Obscene’, as close to a ballad as Bloc Party will get these days. Long gone it seems are the twinkly days of ‘Blue Light’, replaced by those drum machine cymbals again, accompanied by very little else. There’s a feeling of loaded space employed by James Blake et al, in its lament to love lost, one similarly deployed on ‘Montreal’, a melancholic, lo-fi tale of situations gone sour.
Along with the band’s days as sensitive indie group have gone the emotionally charged lyrics – from “And tell your bitch to get off my shit/Smoking on that home roll” in ‘Ratchet’ to the more mature, post-relationship sentiments of ‘Obscene’, and the matter-of-fact of ‘Montreal’. Similarly confrontational is ‘French Exit’, another swaggering dance floor number with Bloc Party’s trademark angular guitar and synth interplay play, and spiky lyrics.
No doubt fans will be reading into the messages on closing number ‘Children of the Future’, which is all about repeating past mistakes, and what exactly the ‘next wave’ for the band is (this release coming nearly a month after their last live performance at Latitude Festival). But whether this is a taste of things to come or a final hurrah from Bloc Party, The Nextwave Sessions is five tracks from a band who’ve etched their mark on the UK music scene, stretching their sound whilst still occasionally snapping back to what made them so appealing eight years ago.