As well as the announcement of a Bloc Party UK tour that celebrates their classic debut record Silent Alarm, Okereke had also finished writing music for the stage performance he helped direct called Leave To Remain, which tells a story of the love between a gay couple in Brexit Britain. Accompanying this play, we were treated to a solo record from the Bloc Party frontman that shares the same name and essentially serves as the play’s soundtrack.
Okereke was, “Fed up with seeing gay narratives laced with tragedy” and created the project as an attempt to be something different in that respect. He also felt it to be very important to shed light on how the use of drugs or as he puts it, the “chemsex world”, ties in with LGBT culture. So much so, that it seemingly became a big inspiration behind the album’s teaser track ‘Not The Drugs Talking’, which definitely gave an exotic flavour of what to expect from the album.
I was already very interested in the album for its context alone, but it excels in many musical aspects on top of this and I found myself getting deeply immersed into this soundtrack and really enjoying it once I got to fully delve into its songs. It provides an excellent blend of theatrical vocals and colourful pop aesthetic, with lashings of the signature rawness that you would expect from Bloc Party themselves.
I really love how the soundtrack filters the narrative so effortlessly. In a way, I felt like I was watching the play from the comfort of my own home. Its generous helping of 16 tracks also boosted the whole narrative aspect even further and left me with the impression that a tonne of effort was put into the soundtrack to make sure it was more than just another album.
There are, naturally, different kinds of atmospheres for different points on the album, with a mixture of slow and melancholic ballads and more festive, upbeat hits. I found myself gravitating towards the upbeat songs a lot more. However, the album engaged with me quite a bit throughout its entirety. It’s one of those albums that really does work well upon completion and is best listened to from beginning to end.
The tracks that I feel push the narrative forward the most include ‘The Sea Between Us’, ‘To Family’, ‘The Fight’, ‘More Than You Know’ and the title track that wraps things up really nicely before the final song brings this album to a close.
Leave To Remain is a beautiful piece and does its job of accompanying the stage performance marvellously. It is a theatrical spectacle with the accessibility to match any Bloc Party record. The album really makes a narrative impact thanks to its inspiration and context and has a wide range of absolute tunes. Not only is it a fabulous soundtrack, but would make a great addition to anyone’s soundtrack of 2019.