I'm absolutely delighted to welcome you to another edition of Staring Down the Pit - a feature that sees us at The 405 retrospectively analyse the albums that find themselves at the very bottom of critic score aggregator Any Decent Music's all-time chart.

Last time, we analysed JLS' debut album and perhaps found that an album so lacking in depth (in every sense of the word) perhaps didn't contain enough of anything whatsoever for the reviewing press to dig their teeth in quite as far as they did. But for this edition we're going to be looking at the next album up in the list from The X Factor runner-up's debut: Bloc Party's Intimacy Remixed, which currently holds a rating of 2.9/10 on ADM's chart and is dangerously close to falling out of the bottom of the website altogether.



  • Artist: Bloc Party
  • Album: Intimacy Remixed
  • ADM Score: 2.9/10.0

Now, for starters, I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of Bloc Party. I do happen to like Silent Alarm rather a lot, and I've always enjoyed the singles they've released in the past (other than 'Octopus' and that time I thought 'Mercury's hook was particularly obnoxious), but when it comes to deeper knowledge of Bloc Party's history I tend to half-ignorantly nod along and smile. I mean, sure, I've listened to the original release of Intimacy enough to know that it's Bloc Party's most dance-influenced record and therefore likely to have a remix album (each single from Intimacy had quite a few remixes to say the least), but perhaps not enough to be offended if Intimacy Remixed didn't quite live up to the standards set by the album it was attempting to reinvent - in terms of my enjoyment of the music anyway.

And it's just as well really. I imagine that if I'd waited for this remix album in the way I did for Battles' 2012 remix album Dross Glop, I'd be more than disappointed with what's on offer here. I understand that remix albums offer a chance for other artists to offer their own interpretation of the source material they've been provided with, but Remixed is essentially an excessively bloated attempt at doing just that to Intimacy - but only by adding incessant and unimaginative 4/4 beats and removing any kind of compositional element that could have restored the meaning Bloc Party put into the album in the first place. Intimacy was a far from perfect album but Remixed is full to the brim with tracks that, outside of the context of the album, would only fill 5-minute slots of a 3-hour DJ set as the DJ nipped to the loo or went outside for a cigarette. It's disjointed, it's vacuous, it's everything that Bloc Party fans wouldn't want it to be.

It's such a shame too, that I really didn't enjoy Remixed, because the names on this thing certainly gave me more hope than its negative criticism did. But even the likes of Mogwai didn't offer anything that I considered to be exciting or refreshing to 'Biko' - a syncopated synth pattern failed to evolve on top of a rather static affair, and by the time an odd 8-bit synth imitated the guitar's melody the track was over and I wasn't quite sure where the last four minutes had gone.

The same feeling occurred on numerous occasions at various different lengths, which left Intimacy Remixed feeling more like Intimacy Reduced. Even No Age's 3-minute remix of 'Better Than Heaven' takes the explosive finish of the original track and removes all of its surprising context by turning a 90-second outro into an entire 3-minute track that, thanks to thin production, doesn't even offer slight improvement. By extending one of brighter points from Intimacy, 'Better Than Heaven's remix stretches the outro beyond the point where enjoyment stops existing altogether and performs what I'd like to call, just this once, a "Dementor's Kiss" - it really does remove all life from proceedings.

But not being a huge fan of Bloc Party, I could have forgiven all of what I've just criticised if the release of this remix album wasn't so damn cynical. Bloc Party authorised the release of Intimacy Remixed knowing full well that the array of music on show didn't even come close to the quality of the original album or anything else in their discography up that point. I don't even think I need to tell you what the reason behind this decision is because of how stinking and obvious it is, so I'll allow you to interpret my typed rendition of a Pink Floyd classic: "MONEY, get away. Get a good job with more pay and you're ooookay." Greed stinks, especially when you're as famous as Bloc Party were when they released this.

Non-Bloc Party fans aren't like to buy Bloc Party remix albums, so what's worse is that Bloc Party could be accused of attempting to take their loyal fans for a ride with Remixed for the sake of lining their pockets. I'm not even going to consider the notion that lead-singer Kele Okereke sat there, listened to Arman Van Helden's dreadfully dull "rework" of 'Signs' and, with all sincerity and innocence, gave the order to send it out to the public. There are better remixes out there than the ones chosen for this album: take Moody Boyz's remix of 'Talons', which creatively changes the entire mood of the original track and transforms it completely into a texturally aware electronic monster, whereas the Phones R.I.P remix that features on Remixed is yet another obnoxious, monotonous 4/4 track in a long line of others. Surely Kele could have noticed this? In fact, as I write this I'm beginning to wonder whether Bloc Party had any say regarding the release of this album at all. As Drowned in Sound said back in 2009, "Bloc Party seem to be saying they either don't care about what they ask fans to spend their money on or they don't know much about electronic music," and both of those notions are incredibly depressing.

One interesting thing to note is that Bloc Party took an indefinite hiatus immediately after Remixed was released - less than two months afterwards, in fact. Were they so unhappy with the release that it caused them to enter an indefinite hiatus to question their direction and pull themselves together? Three years later, after silence (and a solo career for Kele), Bloc Party arrived back on the scene with Four and returned to the more rock-oriented sound they'd started with, abandoning the arc they'd been forming since we all first heard 'The Prayer'. Was that a coincidence or a result of the time they've had to themselves? And it seems Bloc Party are going to have more time to themselves to think things over, as they've entered yet another hiatus. They blame personal relationships with each other and relationships with others for the break, but could this be down to the mixed responses their latest releases have received? I'm sure we'll all know something in the near future.

As I said at the very beginning of this piece, I'm not a huge fan of Bloc Party simply because I haven't put enough effort in to get to know them any better than I do right at this moment. And for the sake of my blood pressure I'm glad I wasn't a huge fan with unconditional love for the band when Intimacy Remixed was released, because I know my loyalty would have been tested beyond its limits by this absolute sham of an album.

On the surface, a lot like JLS last time around, Remixed is just a fairly dull album that can't be dissected because of how lacking it is in terms of aspects that would perhaps need to be analysed further to fully slaughter what you hear. But the likely context of its release is what really pokes at me about Intimacy Remixed. Music like this - and by "like this", I mean music created with a deliberate absence of artistic effort, this in spite of the names on show - does not deserve to be paid for by anybody, anywhere on Earth, whether you're a fan of Bloc Party or not.

See Also: Read The First Edition Of 'Staring Down The Pit'