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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 1 November 2008
I'm generally only moved to commit to a review on the basis of being moved or repelled, and this album has done the former to such an extent that it has completely redefined my opinion of Bloc Party in much the same way as it seems to have disappointed ardent fans of Silent Alarm.

When an album comes along that divides opinion so profoundly the one thing you can't accuse it's creators of is resting on their laurels and playing it safe, and obviously the comparisons with Radiohead aren't far behind for any band daring to experiment or change direction, being as they are, arguably, the benchmark by which musical innovation often seems to be judged. From the moment Ares kicks things off to the closing Ulrich Schnauss inspired strains of Ion Sqaure bleeding out of the speakers this album grips without letting go. Tracks like Halo, Trojan Horse, One Month Off & Talons are like a jackhammer to the solar plexis, punchy, tightly executed guitar driven slabs of utter adrenalyn fueled power. Scattered among the high octane riffing of the former are beautifully conceived moments of melancholy such as Biko and Signs, a brace of songs which give this album an extra dimension, the dreamlike glockenspiel and plantive electronic bassline of the latter providing an anchor to Okereke's mournful falsetto vocals.

The deliciously compressed, skittering drum tracks which have found their way onto tracks like Biko & Zephyrus are probably the flashpoints which polarise opinion as they exhibit an overt inclination towards electronic production, but personally speaking it is that fusion on this album which makes it such an exciting experience, being a longstanding fan of IDM, when I hear production elements that wouldn't sound out of place on a boards of Canada, Telefon Tel Aviv or Boats record in a place I'd never expect to hear them it's a thing to savour as it outlines that the most disparate musical genres can work harmoniously together given the right vision, and fear or snobbery toward one or the other limits the musician as much as it does the listener.

What this album does is quite simply entertain which is after all why we listen to music, is it Bloc Party's kid A moment? No I wouldn't say it is because while it's a change of direction it's not particularly innovative but consequently it's hugely accessible whilst by no means being dull or derivative. It seems to me that what Bloc Party have done is make exactly the music they wanted to make, setting aside all other considerations and the result is thrilling, packed with integrity, and destined, I feel, to go down as their finest moment.
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on 13 October 2008
I find many original Bloc Party fans mind-boggling. Bloc Party turns out some of the best, most innovative music of any band these days.

In an era that celebrates terrible artists like Katy Perry and Jon Mayer, we should feel lucky to have a Bloc Party to offer us quality.

The truth is, this album is absolutely excellent. From Silent-Alarm-like songs like "Talons", "Halo" and "Trojan Horse" (three songs produced by original producer Paul Epworth), to excellent and very original songs like "Better Than Heaven", "Ion Square" and "Signs" (a wonderful track featuring a glockenspiel and a mellotron), the album delivers over and over again.

Many people are one-dimensional. They want Bloc Party to look to the past and make "Silent Alarm" over and over and over again. We already have a Silent Alarm, move on. I love Silent Alarm passionately, but let's evolve with the band.

To be fair, I don't care much for the opening track "Ares", a high-powered song obviously made for fans to get crazy at live shows, but the rest of the album is fantastic.

Bloc Party continues to excite... they continue to innovate. You should flat-out ignore these so-called fans who want Bloc Party to have a career consisting of fifteen Silent Alarm albums, and open up your mind and you'll be rewarded. I've been mentioning these songs and have already been excited, and I haven't even mentioned the album's finest track "Biko" yet.

I miss Matt's drums too, but they'll return. I mean, Bloc Party always evolve, they always innovate, and if they continue to make electronic music over and over again, that's stagnation, which Kele openly opposes.

Funny, recently, a few people have marked my review as 'not helpful'. Funny that those very people wrote comments about how it doesn't sound exactly like "Silent Alarm". I rest my case.
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on 3 November 2008
Best album to date. Not an easy conclusion to come to, but this doesnt have the one or two weaker tracks that silent alarm had e.g. compliments (WITC is very good, but a bit low-key to compete i think).
At first I thought that 'Ares' was pretty poor, but its really grown on me. It sounds a bit Chemical Brothers and is really high energy.
I really respect the fact they have moved on from what was a very popular and lucrative style and expanded into different styles without losing the plot.
There are songs that will appeal to silent alarm lovers Talons, Halo, Trojan Horse and Zepherus, but even these have a much more electronic sound.
Im trying to pick a standout track, and Halo would be the easy answer on first listen, but the more i listen the more difficult it becomes.
This is an album for the car, the gymn, the bedroom and the party; buy it!
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on 19 January 2010
I've reviewed a handful of albums on Amazon because most of the time albums have had enough support without me adding to it. I find that Intimacy could do with the help.

Firstly, the album itself got no favours from the band by having a low-ley release. Secondly, the choice of Mercury as lead single was brave to put it mildly. Foolish to put it more pragmatically.
Thirdly, they go and put the weakest two tracks at the start of the album. And not just week tracks, tracks that risk putting people off. They are brash, awkward, experimental and difficult.

Especially given the majesty that follows. Any of the following 8 tracks would have made a better single choice than Mercury.

The music that follows is on a par with most of what Radiohead have released in the noughties. It's true that Kele doesn't have nearly as great a voice as Thom Yorke but he manages to conjure beauty, none-the-less.

Signs, Trojan Horse, Better than Heaven, Zepherus, Talons, Biko - there you have 6 songs that are filled with multiple ideas.

Signs is just the most beautiful thing they have ever done, all minor key with heartbreaking lyrics.

Talons you probably know but it equally complex with clarity and space that is way beyond the work of most other bands.

Trojan Horse has an addictive chorus and an exhilaration guitar solo.

Zepherus is dark and seductive and reminds me of Bjork.

Better than Heaven is an electo-tinted dream with a fantastic climax.

Biko is all keening and longing.

If, like me, you were disappointed in A Weekend in the City then you might fall in love with this.

And outstanding album and nearly as great as Silent Alarm. I listened to it yesterday and am still dumbfounded by it's lack of success.
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on 30 May 2009
I rate Bloc Party's debut Silent Alarm as one of the greatest albums ever. Its sound and production bring to mind early 80's post-punk while still sounding very original. However, the second album A Weekend In The City was very disappointing. The production by Jacknife Lee resulted in a flat and lifeless sound, further impaired by uninspiring songs. The subsequent singles seemed to be going further away from what I liked, so I didn't even bother buying Intimacy when it came out.

I finally bought it last week - what a revelation. Bloc Party have got their edge back and are writing interesting songs again. Many of the tracks here (particularly Halo, Talons and Better Than Heaven) are reminiscent of Silent Alarm tracks, while showing a progression. Even the Jacknife Lee-produced tracks have a cutting edge this time. It doesn't match Silent Alarm - I doubt they ever will - but this album sounds better each time I listen to it, and is a genuinely compelling and thrilling listen.
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on 23 October 2008
The low-key arrival of Bloc Party's third album Intimacy sees the band getting on with the complex business of turning out another solid and intermittently excellent record. One might think this would be a tricky thing to pull off; the band's debut Silent Alarm was as close to a classic as any up-and-coming seriously-minded indie band these days could manage to pull off, while follow-up A Weekend In The City was a brave but difficult record, attempting to chronicle the woes and disaffections of the UK's teens; seeing Kele Okoreke perhaps unwillingly placing himself as the appointed spokemen for the hug-a hoodie generation. Then came standalone single Flux, a freaky steath-attack of a song which initially sounded for all the world like the band attempting to knock off one of those hideously generic Ibiza trance anthems that seemingly never stop clogging up the airwaves; albeit with with a giant robot monster-themed video and lyrics about arguing with your father. Basshunter was perhaps left quaking in his boots, as were Bloc Party's fans, perhaps fearing a fullblown excursion into pop-dance territory.

Thankfully, Intimacy doesn't signpost a selling-out to the mainstream, or an out-and-out attempt to go far off into experimental lands. Opener Ares comes lumbering in on a gargantuan loping drumbeat that's either borrowed from Tomorrow Never Knows or the Chemical's Setting Son, with Kele barking various non sequiters over clattering beats and looped vocal squawks, sounding not unlike a cross between Mark E Smith and a demented Damon Albarn after too much time spent hanging around with monkeys. Then there's first single Mercury, which either continues Bloc Party's descent into fully fledged art-dance-rock or just sounds like a bad Fatboy Slim single - proving that if you repeat something often enough at least people will remember it, whether they want to or not. Repeated listens however draw out the detail which has thus far been one of the bands strong points; rhythms borrowed from reggae dancehall (something else Radiohead have quite bewilderingly done of late), garbled lyrics about planetary orbits and waking up in basketball courts, and weird, off-kilter string surges. It's a difficult track, but doesn't fail to intrigue.

Halo takes us back to the helter-skelter, jerky-indie territory of Silent Alarm, and is as furious as we have come to expect from Bloc Party's faster numbers, but fails to advance the band's sound to anything radically new. It's been mentioned that this is Bloc Party's breakup album and many of the lyrics do seem to deal with themes of collapsed or broken-down relationships - the glitch-ballad Biko follows this trend, and might call to mind an ancient Peter Gabriel song in its title but is closer to Placebo in its general tone, a band Bloc Party are coming close to resembling in their musical outlook.

Signs is a gorgeous number, glockenspiel-led, twinkly and downbeat with hints of Bjork and Sigur Ros about it. Intimacy is very much a record of two parts - fast songs and slow ones, some dancey and others not (again, Placebo are a band who have wrung considerable mileage out of such an approach). After Signs, the band wrench us out of the quiet mountains and fling us back into the turmoil with the next track, which perhaps explains why previous single Flux isn't on Intimacy, since One Month Off is another rattling beat-driven indie-dance meltdown sounding virtually the same as Flux, except not quite so trancey.

Its about this time that some of the album's potential flaws begin to become apparent; made up as it is out of skittery, lysergic dance numbers and the punkier, thrashier songs the band have become so good at, this unfortunately shows that Bloc Party might be in danger of showing their limitations a little and repeating themselves a bit too much. Another sore-point is Kele's tendency to repeat almost exactly the same vocal melodies he's previously employed on other tracks, just rearranged in a different order. Maybe nitpicking, but for someone familiar with all their b-sides might notice a fair amount of repetition here and there. To illustrate this musical repetition point, Better Than Heaven goes on to conclude itself by vitually repeating the janglesome guitar motif from I Still Remember, only this time notched up to three times the speed - although the album does go out on a high with Ion Square, a gentle yet epic slow-burner which almost manages to eclipse the emotive likes of So Here We Are.

Again, Intimacy makes for a difficult listen. Having moved away from the generalised angst and disaffection of Silent Alarm and the broadly political concept record that was A Weekend In The City, one can't help but get the feeling that despite draping their songs in dancey apparel and remaining lyrically obtuse, Bloc Party may have regressed a little. Here's a band who spent their last two albums hitting out at US foreign policy, the world fuel crisis, and scaremongering about the fear of terrorism in the UK - unfortunately, Intimacy begins to resemble yet another indie album that will see millions over-analyse the cryptic subtext of lyrics which usually amount little more than variations on `my girlfriend/boyfriend dumped me, so now I'm angry/bitter/melancholic?'

Despite all these criticisms, Intimacy still comes out the other end sounding like a very strong album by a still immensely-promising outfit. Anyone unfamiliar with their earlier work - and those who are - will find a lot to appreciate here. Bloc Party are still a young band and perhaps still have quite a way to go before they can truly stand a chance of being up there with some of the greats. By doing things their way, this'll do for now.
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on 20 February 2009
This album personifies why i love music, constantly pushing the boundarys, constantly evolving. Yes its not silent alarm, but why is that a bad thing? If you love Silent alarm so much just put it on repeat and listen to nothing else. And now a few tracks i love:

Zephyrus is a truly amazing song mainly made of layered vocals and wonderful electronic drums. Signs is also different using a clever combination of glockenspiel riffs and electronic drums, for a strange kind of ballard. Trojan Horse is a fast paced rock inspired with guitar riffs but effect heavy with synths kicking around in the background.

The lyrics are still very reconisible as silent alarm style. Every song is brilliant and refreshingly different. If you prefer your boring standard rock bands get the killers new album, and stop moaning that it isn't silent alarm. Its better in my oppinion.
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on 9 October 2008
When I first heard Mercury (the first single of this album) I thought "oh God, they've lost it" and on my first hearing of the album proper I thought much the same. Strangely though, Mercury sounded much better within the context of an album - I'd previously only heard it as a poor quality online stream, and listening to it through decent headphones brought out a lot more depth.

Even though I wasn't that impressed after my first listen, there was something that made me want to come back and give it another go (something I don't usually do, if I'm not impressed first time round) and it suddenly sounding fairly good. I gave it a third listen, and it grew on me even more. After 5 listens I thought it was the best new album I'd heard this year.

It's a different direction to that taken on the last album - some have called it Bloc Party's "Kid A" album - it's more experimental, and there's quite a lot of studio trickery going on (the studio production is excellent) but once you get more familiar with it there's some fantastic song writing going on.

All in all, I think it's a solid album throughout, with about 4 or 5 really stand-out tracks.

I read a review of Keane's new album that described it as if it was ground-breaking and truly original - absolute nonsense. If you want to hear an album that's bravely breaking new ground this would be a good place to start ... but make sure you give it a few listen's before making any judgements.
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on 9 November 2012
There are some lovely tracks on here (Biko, Letter to my son) and some great rock tracks too in an old skool bloc party way. Overall a good album and if you're a fan of the band this is up there with everything they do so well. The electro-pop numbers may not suit everyone, but let's be honest it would be dull if a band's total output didn't change or experiment with new areas.
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on 19 November 2008
When I bought Bloc Party's new album 'Intimacy' I was very sceptical. I didn't particularly enjoy 'A Weekend In The City' but I loved 'Silent Alarm'. The latter was much more energetic and interesting whereas AWITC felt a bit sterile in places (particularly 'Flux')

However, upon the first listen I knew that this would be my favourite Bloc Party album and several listens have only confirmed that. This time around the electronics feel much more natural and make the music so much more interesting. The high tempos and excitement of 'Silent Alarm' are much more present this time; particularly in the opener 'Ares', 'Halo' and 'Talons'. The slower numbers in this album however are the real masterpieces, 'Biko', 'Signs' and 'Zephyrus' are amazing. Each has a fantastic anthematic quality and creates a nice contrast between the other songs. 'Mercury', the lead single, is the most "electronic" track on the album and while it is nowhere near the best it does well in grabbing your attention.

The album isn't perfect however; 'Better Than Heaven' is quite simply a bad track and is obviously filler. Which is a shame because it completely loses your attention whereas the rest of the album really kept you on hold wondering what was going to happen next etc. In fact, if you listen to the album as a whole (as I often do) you may miss out on the last track, which is superb. But, while this is annoying, it can be overlooked as the quality of the rest of the album completely over-rides this fault. Totally worthy of 5 stars and completely worth your money.
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