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Bloc Party – A Weekend In The City

November 2, 2007

I’m pretty sure I need to sit down and completely rethink my opinions on lyrics in general. Sometimes, vocalists I know are very good get on my nerves, and other times, vocalists that I know are bad are not so grating. Either I just have a very strange taste in vocals, or my perception has been separated from my opinions. Anyway, I am no linguist, but it always struck me as odd how many British vocalists with heavy accents don’t let those accents play out in the music. Same goes for the Scots, in general. The Irish show their accents a great deal in music. I don’t know what the deal is.

But for Bloc Party, Kele Okereke lets his accent show, and it’s very heavy and consequently not so pleasurable to my ears. I would be willing to overlook that if he had some good words to sing, but they are mostly all crap. It’s the familiar drill of the difficulty of living in a modern, urban world, except it is all stated very explicitly, leaving nothing to the listeners imagination, which is not good considering this is a subject that has already been discussed in music for years. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. Yeah. Except add a second layer to that. A second layer of failed relationships, time wasted, and just how god damn stressful everything is. These lyrics sound like they belong to a trashy emo band.

The catch is, Bloc Party is far from emo. In fact, the music itself is fairly conventional, at least for what fans of Silent Alarm are used to. It is a common trick to use the blurred light effect on the cover like that. Typical, but effective, and good photography, especially to describe something wispy or ethereal, and heavily layered. A Weekend In The City is definitely heavily layered. They manage to make these layers very abundantly, making each song an ocean of riffs, and hooks, along with oodles of one time use effects. This makes each song fairly interesting and unpredictable. This partially makes up for what Bloc Party lacks in instrumental talent, because as Duke Ellington said, if it sounds good, it is good. But these one-shot production tricks give A Weekend In The City the illusion of depth, when really, it doesn’t take much talent to utilize the tricks that keep the album fresh. The chord progressions are basic, dressed up with one hell of a production job by Jacknife Lee.

It runs out of steam by the end. The first five songs or so are damn good, at least three of them potential radio hits (Hunting For Witches, Waiting For The 7:18, The Prayer). But the second half of the album is pretty dull, with not so many memorable tracks. There is also a gradual realization that these guys really aren’t as original as you are told. They seem to have stolen some effects pedals from Explosions In The Sky, for one thing. Also, they simply repeat themselves throughout, and don’t keep interesting enough for an effective close. Every song is dressed in fast, mediocre, breakbeat drums, and predictable song structures.

Bloc Party are dull. Thankfully not quite as dull as some of their other British contemporaries that get about as much credit (Coldplay? Keane? Huh?). It’s alright, as long as you don’t think about it too much, but just alright.

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One comment

  1. V. good review



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