What happened to Bloc Party?
March 13, 2012
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Apparently if a band can stay together for more than 9 years that makes them stalwarts of the music industry and therefore impervious to some common standards of decency. This is probably not a slight against Bloc Party but rather the music industry in general which in turn reflects norms and mores of the times. Nonetheless I don’t think I am the only one that has been dismayed at the protracted out teases and tasters that have been sporadically marketed to Bloc Party fans all eager to see a snippet of a song. The stringing out of fans’ hopes seems to me like a recipe for alienating the fan base. Bloc Party are good but I don’t think that they are that amazing that they can play this marketing game.
Take for example, the contrived rumours of Kele leaving the band last year. In hindsight it looks like a lame and concerted attempt to generate hype for Kele’s solo project. I recall on their facebook page that many fans were in dismay after reading these rumours. Toying with emotions in such a manner should not be acted upon in such a blasé manner unless of course Bloc Party, or the marketing team behind it are closet schadenfreudes. They say that any PR is good PR – maybe in practical terms it is true but that doesn’t mean that it is the morally right course of action to take. Is it too much to ask for bands to foster a respectful relationship with their fans? One can only imagine what sort of positive consequences would occur if such a fiduciary relationship was ever engendered; perhaps fans would be less inclined to pirate music if they felt some sort of stronger connection than the current superficial ones that they experience.
Culturally this sort of relationship is becoming more common place and this can be seen in the rise of ‘delete fiction’. The other week I was reading Damon Young’s brilliant article about the ease of which the troika of convenience, cheapness, and unadulterated fun have created a category of fiction which is effectively a ‘civilised drug’. The ability to download an ebook and read a trashy novel for a low price is appealing and of course you are never going to read the book again. My problem with ‘delete fiction’ is that it certainly doesn’t encourage budding authors to be creative but rather promotes sticking to tried and true archetypes in order to gain popularity and consequently revenue under the schemes in place for independents at stores such as Amazon and Apple. The fact that a medium such as fiction has accepted ‘delete fiction’ as the norm is surprising considering it is historically counted as the most informative out of radio and television. Of course it would be going a bit too far to suggest that authors do not respect their readers but it seems strange that currently we can accept these music tactics readily but if the same sort of behaviour was acted out upon by authors there would be a riot. The status quo sees fiction being devalued amongst the advent of delete fiction – a progression which is not to dissimilar to that of music.
Now to what we can currently divine from the collage of 30 sec videos and photos posted by Bloc Party. It seems like they are going for a completely new sound as indicated by Russell’s move away from the trademark Fender Telecaster with hot rod pickups. All in all, it actually does look quite promising and none of those band fracturing rumours seem to be true (thanks disinformation). Perhaps I should take the position that the new album will be amazing and we can all say that despite the leading on the music will be so good that the antics are a moot point. The point is I really shouldn’t have say something like that, if such behaviour became more acceptable amongst content providers life wouldn’t be very good for the fan whether that be in music or fiction.
Finally I would like to say that I don’t think that Bloc Party is the most annoying British band at the moment, far from it, I am still a Bloc Party fan, Silent Alarm is one of my favourite albums but the recent shenanigans that have occurred are disheartening at the very least.
You can read more about the philosopher Damon Young at his blog.