'Boris is a liar': Bloc Party return in angry form

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·3-min read
Okereke says he struggles to explain to his children how a 'racist lying pig' can run the country (AFP/BERTRAND GUAY) (BERTRAND GUAY)
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Indie disco stars Bloc Party are back with a record that puts a new fire in the band, fuelled by anger at Britain's political leaders.

Singer Kele Okereke doesn't mince his words.

"Every day I'm disgusted when I read about what our government is doing and who our prime minister is," he told AFP during a recent visit to Paris.

"He's an awful fucking pig and a liar and somehow he's still there."

The current "Partygate" scandal, in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his staff repeatedly breached their own lockdown rules during the pandemic, is the immediate source of Okereke's anger.

But new album "Alpha Games", released last week, reflects a wider disgust with the way the political world operates -- "all the domination and subordination... people trying to manipulate each other to get their own way".

"I've always tried to put a rosy tint on difficult things... but since Trump came to power, I'm seeing the world in a different way," said Okereke, dreadlocks tucked under a red beanie.

"The optimist and the dreamer in me have died a little bit."

- 'Rediscovering that energy' -

Bloc Party's 2005 debut "Silent Alarm" was one of the defining albums of the era -- the soundtrack to an infinite number of indie club nights, still racking up millions of streams today.

Though they had continued success with their follow-ups, the usual rock'n'roll antics took their toll and only two of the original line-up remain in the band.

Okereke chooses not to answer questions about the splits that occurred in the band over the past decade. (He once summarised things to NME as: "I can tell you it was about someone doing cocaine and someone not being into it.")

The project got a fresh start, however, when Okereke played a series of "Silent Alarm" shows in 2018 and 2019, replaying their debut in full.

"It was really fun rediscovering that energy that we'd been moving away from," he said.

Bloc Party inevitably challenged conventions when they started out -- having a gay lead singer of Nigerian descent ensured they stood out in the overwhelmingly straight and white world of indie music at the time.

But the band's politics is more explicit now -- on new songs like "Rough Justice" about the criminal side of the ultra-wealthy, or political corruption in "If We Get Caught".

Becoming a father in the Brexit era (he has two children through surrogate mothers) has only sharpened Okereke's concern about the future of Britain.

"How do you explain to your five-year-old child that the person in charge of us all is a lying racist pig?" he said of Johnson.

Johnson has long been plagued by racism allegations, not least over an article he wrote in 2018 saying veiled Muslim women looked like "letter-boxes" or "bank robbers".

"How do you get them to believe in the system and what Britain is? The reality is now I don't. Now I'm starting to see the reality of the country I live in."

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