The Playlist: Bloc PartyFrontman Kele Okereke from Bloc Party reveals the Songs that inspired their fifth album.
With its rough new-wave guitar riffs and existential lyrics, Bloc Party’s 2005 debut, Silent Alarm, was a declaration of war on macho rock clichés—the perfect soundtrack for the anxious Generation Y. Acclaimed by critics, the album sold more than a million copies and set the London-based indie-rock quartet on the road to global success.
Now, following a four-year hiatus, frontman Kele Okereke and his band are about to release their fifth album, Hymns. As the title hints, the new record is subtly influenced by spiritual music. Here, the 34-year-old reveals the songs that inspired him.
“State Of Independence”
“Every time I hear this song, I’m blown away by the reverence in the music and in Donna’s voice. The backing track is almost industrial-sounding, but as the song evolves it becomes this huge gospel piece. The idea of marrying synthetic elements with something soulful is fascinating and magical to me. This song was my starting point for what I wanted the new album to sound like.”
“May The Work I’ve Done Speak For Me” [from The Best Of…]
“I’m not a religious person, but I’ve listened to a lot of gospel music over the last months. I discovered this CD by accident in a music shop in London. I picked it up because of the cover, which shows the musicians—husband and wife—in their Sunday best. Their incredible blues songs prove that faith and devotion can elicit amazing responses in art. They can transform the spirit and take it somewhere else.”
“Battle For Middle You”
“I met Julio at Frankfurt airport a few years ago when we spent an afternoon waiting for a plane. I told him that of all the great house tunes he’s made, ‘Battle For Middle You’ is my favorite. I don’t know if it’s down to the sound of the track or the gospel sample he uses on it, but it just completely energizes people. The energetic and soulful feel of our album was influenced by this tune.”
“A Love Supreme, Part 4: Psalm” [from A Love Supreme]
“When we started making music as a band, I had such a resistance to jazz. But the older I get, the more I see that the stuff I discounted as a young person is now the music I love. You have to take time out to listen to this record, because it’s not pop music. You need to focus to fully experience Coltrane’s spiritual journey. This mood is something I tried to emulate on our album.”
“In 2013, I saw Stevie play a great set at a music festival in Alabama, and afterwards I revisited his album Songs in the Key of Life, which my parents had owned. ‘As’ is my favorite track. There’s something very deep about the imagery in the lyrics; he’s talking about loving someone from the start until the end of time. That’s such a strong idea, and it resonated with me when I was writing the lyrics for Hymns.”