BUY IT, BURN IT, SKIP IT: Bloc Party, Tussle, The Verve

By Aaron Richter

As we all know by now, new releases hit record-store shelves and digital-download services each Tuesday. That’s why self-titled presents the following every week: a new release you’d be stupid not to own (Buy It), one worth checking out if you’re the curious type (Burn It) and something you might have heard about but probably should avoid (Skip It). Simple, ain’t it?

Buy It
Bloc Party, Intimacy (Vice)

Because it hit download queues this past Thursday, Bloc Party‘s third album, Intimacy, seems fair game for our weekly roundup. And holy hell, we didn’t realize we were getting a Chemical Brothers album out of Kele and the boys. Well, only sorta. Opener “Ares” and “Mercury” are pure big beat. They’re pounding and noisy as hell and might make the Chem-nuts shed a tear or twelve. “Halo” is the first track that will really remind you of why you first fell in love with Silent Alarm a few years ago, with a breakneck pace and “You’re the one who completes me” chants. Elsewhere, “Biko” is a somber club track, “Signs” calms to a tinkled jingle and “One Month Off” revs up into an industrial stomp. You’ll hear different shades of the group here, as they indulge many of the influences they’ve been hinting at since their debut, but in the end, Intimacy is just how we want our Bloc Party: totally emo, super-fast and fun as hell.

Burn It
Tussle, Cream Cuts (Smalltown Supersound)

On Cream Cuts, a solid batch of clattery electro from this San Francisco quartet, everything sounds like a patchouli-and-BO-scented hippie drum circle … if it were curated by DFA. Which means keyboards are invited. Funk bass, too. And hipsters, you’re more than welcome to actually enjoy these tracks because, guess what, they’re pretty damn good. You’ll get seven-minute jams like “Transparent C,” which could be a propulsive Juan Maclean B-side were it not for all the percussion beating the shit out of the synth stabs. And “Titan,” which features Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor. It captures the energy of Hot Chip’s kinetic live show, but it’s stripped down, and the rhythm section isn’t grooving toward any chorus. Which is sort of a theme throughout Cream Cuts: grooves aplenty, with no intended destination.

Skip It
The Verve, Forth (RED/Megaforce)

Who would have thought that Richard Ashcroft and Jason Pierce would still be releasing records in 2008? A goofy pill-brain like Pierce and a Brit-pop godhead like Ashcroft; two legendary figures who seemed on completely different trajectories. (Ashcroft toward the pop stratosphere and Pierce toward the gutter.) But this year, it’s Pierce who shines triumphant with his touching, bleak Songs in A&E and Ashcroft who sounds foolish with Forth, a unnecessary record that plods a tired formula and even tries to ape Coldplay several times.

Ugh. Give us a chorus, Rich! You gotta have at least one. No? OK, maybe next time. And let’s not gouge too deep into “Love Is Noise,” an awkward foray into nü-rave Klaxons territory, which is embarrassing, obnoxious and best left ignored–even if it is the album’s most memorable five and a half minutes.

Richard, have you not learned anything in the past five years? Reunion tours = OK. Reunion albums = bad idea.