Top 50 Songs of 2008 :: Number One : Bloc Party - "Ion Square" [All the bright lights do is bore me]
Some songs are undeniably tied to a location. Now, this relationship is usually personal and for me, the journey with "Ion Square" begins on my couch. It was the summer and it was hot and I didn't have to work. The new Bloc Party album had snuck up on everyone like a surprise birthday party. I resolved to listen to the entire leak from beginning to end. It's worth noting, I was moved by a couple different moments on the 10-song digital leak. But song 10. Song 10 was something else entirely. Song 10 was "Ion Square" and song 10 ended up being number one.
I'm sitting, sweating, shirtless and alone in my apartment (it's more romantic than it sounds) and listening to the Bloc Party leak loud enough that I'm sure my Spanish-speaking, completely elderly neighbors must be about to call the police. It's 10am on a weekday and it's more romantic than it sounds.
This is how it starts: the woosh of a digital engine starting and an urgent but not in-your-face piano riff. And then the beat drops and Kele's vocals are mixed so close to your ears that you couldn't get them out of your head if you tried. Throw in some synth-stabs on the low end and an arrangement that you can literally hear getting larger. It's like an season of the Biggest Loser but shot in reverse with everything getting a little bigger at every possible moment.
And then it breaks. Really breaks. Kele makes the pedantic, dying, and incredible promise to "carry your heart here with me." He promises to carry your heart in his heart - like a concentric and perfectly matched shape. And the drums drop on you like a ton of vibrating, insistent bricks. You didn't see it coming or maybe you did. But just like that, the whole thing tips. I am sitting on my couch turning the volume up to a million and pumping my fist in mid-air. If I'm being honest, I'm close to tears and I can't explain why. This thing is moving at the speed of sound and everyone is just trying to stay ahead of the sonic boom.
And then it breaks again. Kele drops the f-bomb and we're flying even faster. You could argue it was unnecessary but go back and listen again. It was just what we all needed. And he returns to the chorus as so many elements of the arrangement are building and crashing around him. I carry it in my heart. The guitar is angular and unapologetic. It's climbing to a frenetic pace, just waiting to explode. The vocal loops, a literally insane amount of density is just waiting to blow the roof of my apartment, this city, the whole mess.
And then it happens: after Kele promises one last time to carry our hearts with him, the whole thing blows up. I've been pumping my fist for two full minutes now, which, it's worth noting, is a lot when you're alone in your apartment on a weekday. Kele's vocals soar over the top of everything in a series of angelic "ooohs." The whole thing lifts off the ground for just a second. The natural vibrations of the universe exist more in this one moment than anywhere else. Everyone has velocity. Every moment has power. Everything is moving.
And just like that, it's over. The arrangement is allowed to unravel like an over-wound ball of twine. The CD, the digital leak, is done. It's the last song. Silence. But you can go back. And you can listen again. And you can pump your fist in mid-air because this is moving. This is the most moving thing you've heard all year. And it all started on the couch. You started alone and you feel together. You started tired and now you're exhausted. And you never really moved. Let the sofa be your car. All the bright lights do is bore me. They bore me.