Bloc Party - "Ion Square"

Bloc Party's new record, Intimacy hit the digital retail world yesterday and it's huge. A near perfect combination of Silent Alarm and sophomore effort, A Weekend In The City, Intimacy might be the best rock album of the year. But most of that is riding on the last six-minutes and 33 seconds. The song is called "Ion Square," track 10. It's the album closer every record needs.

It's about loops. The song opens with a looping piano riff before absorbing some classic Bloc Party back-beat. Packaged snares and high-hats squeeze in. Synth-jabs syncopate and intertwine, as an angular guitar starts to bring up the bottom of the mix. Everything stays in place and nothing leaves. Every loop, every layer, is built upon the last. Your ears start to strain to pick up all the pieces and just. like. that: you're exploding into the first chorus. It's an exuberant affair and lyrically easy. "I carry your heart with me/I carry it in my heart." Is it poetry? Not quite. Maybe.

Around about 3:30, Kele vocally cuts loose and says the f-word. He says "slow it down" but you know damn well he doesn't mean that. The mix starts to get dangerous and the song is getting louder and louder in your ears. Each loop has taken on a hypnotic quality and you're nodding your head without thinking. As Kele is reaching into his upper register for "let's stay in/let the tv be our stars," this song finds a down-beat that could be the last 10-meters of an Olympic sprint. It's pounding. It's relentless. It's frantic. I carry your heart here with me.

At 5:09 it changes into the most uplifting piece of rock this year. As the final chorus erupts, no, becomes something else - all rising into a series of loops and Kele's escalating "ahhhs." They seem like the final ebullient part of an amazing design. The guitar is finding the top of the fret-board. The whole hypnotic mess has come to this: A 26-second piece of mp3 and stereo. 5:09-5:35. You vibrate. You lift off the ground. You just have to.

And then it's over. The loops unravel - an intentionally exposed design. You've either experienced 6:33 or 26. And either way, you've gotten some of the best bits of music this year. Because if those last 26-seconds don't make you feel something - don't take you somewhere special - I don't know what to say. Because I carry it with me.

Listen :: Bloc Party - Ion Square


deadbands said...

The "aahs" in the last couple minutes sound like when Doug Funny sees Patty Mayonnaisse. I think its an intentional reference.

phoebeplagens said...

this song kept my head above water today. nothing goes better with a blackout stalled N train than over five minutes of bloc party redeeming themselves.

32feet said...

just massive. i mean, how do you handle critics who say you made your sound too big? you crush them with something bigger than they could understand. if they thought "i still remember" was too big, get a load of this. it's the, "shut your mouths. we're getting in our airplane and taking off and the rest of you are just staring at us" moment. doesn't happen often

Anonymous said...

Brilliant review.
Thanks for reminding me why Bloc Party is my favorite band.

Anonymous said...

I think the song is the best off the album, too. It's really great. The "ahhs" actually made me think of Robert Smith to be honest. "Ion Square" is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your review, nodoubt Ion Square is the best one sofar on the album. It reminds me of "The Modern Love" or "So Here We Are" or whatever..

Anonymous said...

"Is it poetry? Not quite. Maybe."

Well actually it is, from E. E. Cummings' poem "I Carry Your Heart with Me".

Best song these chaps have churned out. I don't think my ears really fully understand.