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Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
|Bloc Party met overwhelming critical acclaim in early 2005 when they introduced the musical world to their outstandingly intriguing Silent Alarm. Both elitist snobs and impressionable kid sisters everywhere embraced the album, whether for its roughly charging rockers, the smoothly soothing ditties, or a combination of the two. The CD sparked follow-ups such as Silent Alarm Remixed and appearances on compilations and in video games. It exceeded expectations not only because of its greatness but also since none existed. A Weekend in the City tells a quite different tale.|
This time around the incredible weight of lofty expectancies burdens Bloc Party endlessly. Fans demand a release surpassing the prowess of the group’s debut. Besting such an impressive effort proves a daunting task, and front man Kele Okereke attempts to accomplish it in a fashion far removed from the approach of Silent Alarm.
The separation surfaces only lyrically in the opening tracks of the record. Whereas the former disc utilizes vague, mysterious wording to intrigue listeners, here Okereke’s prose proves far less evasive. He boldly states his intentions in the opening line of the album, whispering, “I am trying to be heroic in an age of modernity.” Throughout A Weekend in the City he addresses topics in an infinitely more straightforward fashion than on Silent Alarm. Kele muses unambiguously on issues such as evolving city life, the conformist nature of supposedly nonconformist adolescents, and suppressed homosexual urges of teenaged boys. Okereke works best on “Hunting for Witches” when he cautions persons regarding their propensities to seek absurd solutions to intimidating quagmires and “I Still Remember” in which he speaks of the unspeakable, unrealized attraction of two young men.
Of course he stumbles as well. In fact, the wordplay presents one of the most prevalent stalls of progression for the band. Oftentimes the diction strikes listeners as slightly awkward. Frequently Okereke’s lines convey the appropriate message but with unfitting words. Though frankly honest, he still radiates a slightly uncomfortable vibe in multiple instances. Such an issue fails to legitimately anger fans, but it often manages to significantly irk them.
Musically, the record starts quite like the debut. “Song for Clay (Disappear Here),” a track drawing heavily from Bret Ellis’s Less than Zero, and the ensuing “Hunting for Witches” charge with the energetic disposition seen on the crash ambition of “Helicopter.” The former progresses masterfully, as throughout its entirety suspense builds and keeps the listener on the edge of his or her seat until the frantic conclusion. This transitions nicely into the blipping introductory moments of the latter which eventually give way to a somehow calm wave of similarly aggressive flurries of intense percussion, focused guitars, and fatiguing pace. The next track decelerates the onslaught of mounting hyper activity, effectively foreshadowing the closely tailing retardation of the rest of the album. Beginning with “On” Bloc Party delivers a significantly more relaxed style, consistently floating through laidback tunes rather than attacking and smashing through rocking jams.
The flow from forceful to halcyon ultimately yields one of the most rewarding developments of the CD. Bloc Party perfects the art of allowing their disc to evolve from one outlook to another naturally they so nearly mastered on Silent Alarm. The album impeccably marches from beginning to end with marked confidence in its pace.
Bloc Party needed to live up to looming goals set by their fans with their sophomore release. Though instantly memorable at its outset, the passive nature of its transition and waning moments play in a subtler, more forgettable way. Though still impressive, these tracks likely serve less to create new fans than to sustain existing ones. A Weekend in the City marks less a turning point for Bloc Party from the oft raucous and continually infectious beats of Silent Alarm than a gradual bend to a low-key attitude. And luckily for these young men, it easily proves good enough to meet the outstanding expectations of their outrageously demanding fans.
08:39 PM on 02/03/07
It is very good. I like it a lot and can definitely see it in my top ten of 2007. Right now it's my number two, trailing only Of Montreal. It's one of those albums that has a deceivingly low score. By that I mean I enjoy it a lot more than the average might indicate.
09:35 PM on 02/03/07
good review, and yes of montreals cd is rediculous.
09:52 PM on 02/03/07
Great review Greg! This album is very good, but I think Silent Alarm was better. I'm sure that people (based on the curve set by scores on this site) will see the 79 and think this is bad, which it definetely is not.
10:00 PM on 02/03/07
Good review, I would probably rate it a lot lower, but good work Greg.
10:04 PM on 02/03/07
This is my fav. cd of the year so far, I love it. Nice review too Greg. On the US version is "Where is Home" included? It's not on their Myspace for streaming with the rest of the album.
10:11 PM on 02/03/07
very fair review. I like this album, but I agree that there are some parts that are a little lacking. The good parts are really good though so it balances out.
10:15 PM on 02/03/07
willreadbooksformoney @ tumblr
Being the Bloc fanboy that I am, I absolutely adore the CD. It truly bests anything released this year and even last year for me -- something truly special will have to come out to upset this as my album of the year. 79, I have to say, is a score much lower than I would give it, but to each their own.
Trust me -- Bloc hasn't touched their potential yet. A future CD could very well be decade-defining.
10:21 PM on 02/03/07
I liked this cd, but I will admit I was a bit disappointed
10:23 PM on 02/03/07
Really looking forward to this coming out in stores. The guys at Invisible Creature were listening to it the other day when I was there, and I really liked what I heard.
10:24 PM on 02/03/07
That's exactly how I feel. I think that they're really just finding their niche and that CDs to come will literally rock my face straight off. Their potential is absolutely enormous.
Sorry that you didn't agree with the score. I hope you liked the writing though.
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