A Weekend In The City

Bloc Party

Vice, 2007


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


I’m a big fan of deserved hype, infectiously catchy guitar riffs and bands that sound like U2, combining politics without preachiness. Nevertheless, I completely kept my blinkers on all through 2005’s Bloc Party mania (hey, I thought music reviewers were all supposed to be brilliant geniuses…). So, to redeem myself, I bypassed all the drooling Fall Out Boy fans crowding the aisles of Best Buy to pick up copy of A Weekend in the City, the British indie sensation’s follow-up to their smash hit debut.

If you were hoping for another slice of hyperactive dance rock à la my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Silent Alarm, you’re out of luck. The album still feels like the same Bloc Party with its sweeping anthems, but their once-signature jittery bursts of guitar have been sidelined in favor of intricate layers and crackling atmosphere.

Themes of detachment even amid a perpetually bustling metropolis permeate the entire album; opener “Song for Clay (Disappear Here)” combines driving drumbeats and bombastic production courtesy of Garrett “Jacknife” Lee (U2, Snow Patrol) with lyrics of nihilistic disillusionment (“I am trying to be heroic, in an age of modernity…but in my heart I am lukewarm, nothing really touches me”) inspired largely by Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero.

Diverging from the charming eclecticism of Silent Alarm, A Weekend in the City achieves its own unique strength from a more realized, cohesive vision. Ensuing songs “Hunting For Witches” and lead single “The Prayer” sizzle with sinister energy. The former implicates the media in perpetuating xenophobia while “The Prayer” lends a nod to TV on the Radio with its texturized synths and frantic drums.

“The Uniform” is the album’s centerpiece, an epic indictment of our MTV generation. The song slowly builds from hushed guitars to earnest pleas for something to hold on to: “I am a martyr, I just need a motive…I’m a believer, I just need a cause.”

But despite all that hard-edged cynicism, flashes of emotion always manage to rise above the bleakness and despair; while “I Still Remember,” which illustrates a burgeoning relationship between two schoolboys, is a subtle kiss-off to rumors dogging lead singer Kele Okereke’s sexuality. What truly resounds in the track is its elegant, vivid lyrics, sentimental without ever being trite.

A Weekend in the City is a brilliant album despite its flaws; it still leaves Bloc Party room to grow and improve, to flesh out a tendency towards over-seriousness, and to build on the promise here of sense of possibility and humanity amid desolation.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


B right now - but I'm certain this one's going to grow on me eventually.

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