My Mercury’s in retrograde
That’s the chorus of “Mercury,” the newly leaked single from Bloc Party’s upcoming third album. It seems singer Kele Okereke has gone all cosmic on us — Google the phrase “Mercury retrograde” and you’ll get hundreds of astrological websites — but despite the, um, questionable scientific value of his possible hobbies, Okereke turns this astral mumbo jumbo into a solid vehicle for his angsty disorientation.
Mercury retrograde occurs for about three weeks, three or four times a year, when from the vantage point of Earth the red planet appears to slow down, stop, and reverse direction. This optical illusion happens when Mercury, which travels faster than we do, is orbits at a skewed angle respective to our own orbit. People who read horoscopes instead of doing crosswords believe that during these three-week periods communications break down: the Internet goes haywire, telephones revolt, and people have been known to talk backwards (K, just the first two).
Here’s what Astrology Weekly advises:
Don’t enroll to courses, don’t buy expensive Mercurian items (books, cars, mobile phones etc.), don’t sign important contracts and do not marry.
Check, check, and check. Okereke actually hits on these themes in “Mercury,” a post-breakup/drinking to forget-type song, which shows he’s got more than just a passing interest in star readings:
This is not the time, the time to start a new love
This is not the time, the time to sign a lease
Thankfully he stops there, switching to less horoscope-y details about random lovers and waking up in strange places. It’s a testament to Okereke that he doesn’t overdo it, considering clunkers like this one, from “Hunting for Witches”:
The newscaster says the enemy’s among us
As bombs explode on the 30 bus
Kill your middle class indecision
Now is not the time for liberal thought
A little Olbermann-ish, right? Finally, points to the band for flawlessly pairing lyrics about planetary disorientation with a similarly dizzying beat (courtesy of producers Jacknife Lee and Paul Epworth). With beehives of horns, flurries of tribal drums, and pseudo-remixed vocals (kind of did the DJs’ work for them), it seems that Bloc Party has all their chaotic elements in alignment.