Bloc Party dabbles with electronic tone

Bloc Party
4 out of 5 stars

Some people will say Bloc Party has changed as they notice the undeniable electronic presence in the London band’s third record. But careful examination of “Intimacy” reveals it to be more of an exercise in cohesion and development, rather than reinvention.

The lead single “Mercury” is apparently the flag-bearing track for the Bloc Party of 2008, as it brandishes elements largely absent on 2005’s “Silent Alarm” and 2007’s “A Weekend in the City.” On this gaudy track, the post-punk guitars take a backseat to horns, programmed vocals and synthetic drumbeats.

That’s not to say the band’s usual angular guitar attack has taken a vacation entirely. Standout rockers like “Halo,” “Trojan Horse” and “One Month Off” return the quartet to their stylish brand of neo-Britpop.

Consisting of only 10 songs, “Intimacy” engages the listener on a trip of expected and unexpected, and drops him off before the affair goes sour. With experimentation and probing variety sprawling throughout, the record reveals itself as the one that frontman Kele Okereke and company to make from the start – one that captures the grandiosity and paranoia of their genre without falling into its expected trappings.

Key Tracks: “One Month Off,” “Mercury,” and “Trojan Horse”

Human Highway
“Moody Motorcycle”
4 out of 5 stars

If all the best punk bands come from the United Kingdom, then all the good folk groups come from Canada.

Human Highway consists of two songwriting friends who, on their debut album, have collected a dozen toe-tapping tracks influenced by the acoustic melodies and vocal harmonies of folk-pop.

What makes Human Highway stand out amidst the mass of current indie-folksters is they embellish their songs with more than just acoustic guitars. Each track has a distinct personality, produced through use of synthesizers, subtle bass lines or percussion.

The production never calls attention to itself, keeping the emphasis on the songs.

Tonally, “Moody Motorcycle” evokes the Beach Boys in its playful tone and lazy shuffle present in songs like “All Day.”

There’s a breezy quality to the music, making the layered instrumentation and pop hooks sound simple. “Moody Motorcycle” is a solid and confident debut worth seeking out.

Key Tracks: “The Sound,” “All Day,” and “Duties of a Lighthouse Keeper”