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Bloc Party

  • Silent Alarm
  • A Weekend In The City
  • Intimacy

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    Bloc Party

    a weekend in the city intimacy silent alarm

    Silent Alarm 8 ( 2004, UK pos 3 )
    Like Eating Glass / Helicopter / Positive Tension / Banquet / Blue Light / She's Hearing Voices / This Modern Love / Pioneers / Price Of Gas / So Here We Are / Luno / Plans / Compliments

    Another new British guitar band. Isn't there one along every week, at the moment? Bloc Party distinguish themselves slightly from the masses simply through their sheer conviction. Whilst doing absolutely nothing new in any musical sense whatsoever, they still make their mix of influences sound fresh. We've an early Cure influence, an early XTC influence. Bloc Party take bands from that kind of era yet also are clearly aware of their contemporaries, groups such as The Futureheads, etc. One thing I picked up on quite quickly in my listening adventures spent to 'Silent Alarm' was noticing how absolutely solid and tight the rhythm section are, the drummer in particular. The drumming throughout the album is superb and inventive and really does propel the songs forwards. The vocalist has a fairly interesting and striking vocal, and there you have it. They know melody, many songs built around quite simple catchy melodies which are then driven forwards engergetically via the bass and drum work. The album suffers in terms of structure, a failing of many modern bands who quite simply don't seem to have the knack for sequencing songs together in the manner many of the great sixties albums were, songs put together to enhance each other and enhance the album as a whole, as a work of art. Far too often, modern groups tend to just throw a bunch of songs together. They acknowledge that todays modern listener has a short, split attention span so usually place all the better songs towards the beginning of an album. As such, the second half of 'Silent Alarm', barring the beautifully considered slower song 'So Here', is merely an inferior version of the first half of the album. No sense of progress, no sense of having been on a journey.

    Still, 'Silent Alarm' remains goodly enjoyable, helped along by such standouts as the opening cure-like 'Like Eating Glass', the fall-like 'She's Hearing Voices', the thumping and smoothly jerky 'Banquet' and my personal favourite, the utter classic that is 'This Modern Love'. Oh, what a song! Whispered, overlapping vocals. A delicate guitar pattern. Another melody appears over these continuing vocals and the song gradually builds. A musical-box melody, an increasing sense of urgency beautifully blooming during the songs absolutely perfect mid to end section. Does it for me, proves what potential this band have, possibly. On the other-hand, this could be their peak moment. Another irritating fact with modern guitar groups is after releasing a decent debut, too many of them release a poorer second set of songs then vanish. I hope that fate doesn't await Bloc Party. They clearly have talent amongst their ranks and I hope they go places.

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    From dan danielofcadman@hotmail.com
    Well your spot on again. For some reason I prefer bloc party to the other new comers of late. They appear to have more conviction, more emotion and sentiment in their music, but still maintaining an upbeat feel. 'This modern Love' is great! Also this is the first time in ages I have really noticed and been compelled to listen to the excellent drumming. But as an album, the song order does nothing. If this album followed a course, with a point to it, then it would be magnificent. As you said, new bands simply dont do this.

    felix vaughan felix_292@hotmail.com
    Well i have to say that bloc party are one of my favourtie bands i hope that they continue to grow and improve there music. Great review. Despite them being my favourite i wasnt expecting a very high rating and 8 gives them there due respect. Cheers.
    From John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Borrowed it from a student mate. Yeah, it sure kicks ass. Far too many of these trendy bands around at the moment, but I think Bloc Party will stay the duration, because despite the hype, they have enough class and substance to see them through. 8.5/10.

    top of page A Weekend In The City 8 ( 2007, UK pos ? )
    Like Eating Glass / Helicopter / Positive Tension / Banquet / Blue Light / She's Hearing Voices / This Modern Love / Pioneers / Price Of Gas / So Here We Are / Luno / Plans / Compliments

    Bloc party, Bloc Party. I don’t dream of Bloc Party. Following their debut album surprising even myself by topping my ‘What’s On 2005’ end of year albums poll, I promptly forgot all about them, forgot that they’re British not American. Forgotten exactly what they sound like beyond ‘indie-guitar’. I remember I thought the drummer was quite good. Indeed he is, the 2nd album confirms one thing at least, Bloc Party have a great hidden treasure in their drumming department. ‘The Prayer’ was released as the first single and a brave single it is, too. Nothing too obvious, yet increased listens ( around 10 should be enough ) makes you realise what a fantastic song it really is. It’s so far removed from The View, The Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys as to be ridiculous. NME have created a devil’s spawn with their continued hyping of Arctic Monkeys. Dozens of soundalike bands who all actually ( Artic Monkeys included ) sound like weaker versions of The Libertines. The Libertines actual importance cannot be over-estimated. Artic Monkeys still exist though, so the NME will write often of that bands importance. They will then be seen as important throughout the industry, and it becomes so, record label sheep mentality well to the fore. Bloc Party have never been perceived in quite the same way. They’re too studied for their own good, perhaps? Too unremarkable to be seen singing of tramps and getting drunk. As that signifies some kind of cutting edge? Well, Bloc Party have approached 2nd album time sensibly, as we might expect. They’ve sat in their bunkers beavering away to ensure the 2nd album lives upto the potential of the debut. It does, too. Well, almost. That sense of having to try to sound epic and improved is never far from the surface. It remains though that they mostly succeed and some of the instrumental backings show hints there’s still more to come. I’m glad about that. If this was the absolute best they could do, they may as well be now forgotten Britpop also-rans Mansun. Remember them? I’m reminded of them whilst listening to this, quite scarily. If it all goes wrong big style 3rd time out for Bloc Party, remember Mansun. You read it here first!

    Oh, for those in the torrent world. A leaked copy from a radio-broadcast hit the net. Full of differing sound levels, very muffled and in no way doing the album any justice. When such a thing happens these days, it's actually in the bands own best interests to get a 'proper' illegally leaked copy out as soon as possible. Believe it or not, but buying choices are made on copies of albums heard on the net. Some inferior copies can be offputting for life, hence at least some of the bad reviews you may have seen of this album. It's better than the debut with only a couple of duds. 'Where Is Home' is experimental in a percussive vein. Sounds of gunfire appear intermittantly and seemingly randomly. It lacks melody. 'Kreuzberg' just lacks anything of remote interest, a very quiet flat tune also lacking in melody. 'Sunday' is fairly generic indie-rock and the closer 'SRXT' only slightly raises the 2nd half of the album game, being loud in a shoegazing way during the tunes latter half. Sat inbetween these songs is 'I Still Remember', a spiffing tune to enlighten and brighten any 2nd half of an album. 'Uniform' is the best song on the LP, Bloc Party remember the rock in indie-rock and even see fit to include a guitar solo. To be fair to the lads, songs one to six are all excellent. It's a shame about the 2nd half, but then that's a complaint of much modern music these days. They just won't have anybody downloading those songs, will they? The album as it stands won't sell as well, but the singles will do great. Well, we shall see.

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    From Mr.T tomriol521@hotmail.com
    This album was poor at first listen, but i learnt to like it after a while... I mean, the first 6 tracks are good, and then after that it's all pretty poor. As for the comment about Mansun, Paul Draper (the singer) is making a solo album. The only reason they really split up was because of their third album which Draper was not allowed to produce due to the experimentation of Six- as a result, the songs all sounded far too poppy on Little Kix and effectively messed the band up- hopefully Bloc Party wont go down this route as they are press darlings (unlike Mansun who were often slanted and hated) Mansun were a great band, did two good albums and just got funnelled (unfortunately, and unfairly) into commercialism so they could survive. Bloc Party on the other hand are good- but wont go down that route, it'd be a shame if they did.... Like it was also a horrible shame when Mansun split as both Attack of the Grey Lantern and Six are one of my favorite things about the nineties.! I kinda ranted on about Mansun there, sorry, but I'm a big fan of their work
    From Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    This album is inevitably nowhere near as good as the first-but at it's best(The Prayer,say)it is truly wonderful.And as for Mansun,Six was outstanding in a proggy way.But if it was good enough for Radiohead

    top of page Intimacy( 2008 )
    Ares / Mercury / Halo / Biko / Trojan Horse / Signs / One Month Off / Zephyrus / Talons / Better Than Heaven / Ion Square

    The artistic breakthrough is here. With songs like 'Halo' they are just as catchy an indie-band as they ever were before. Songs like 'Ares' and 'Mercury' meanwhile indicate that 'Bloc Party' have been listening to Public Image Ltd. You didn't even need to know the story behind Bloc Party's lead vocalist and Johnny Rotten falling out and Rotten getting accused of being racist in the NME to have spotted the obvious debt the marvellous 'Mercury' owes to Public Image Limited in particular. I should explain before I proceed any further. I've been quite ill recently, i'm still not feeling quite myself, yet the year is running out and i've delayed reviewing this particular album for quite some time. Well, Bloc Party still don't seem to fit in, do they? Well, not in the way The Kooks or The Courteneers do. I put that down to the fact Bloc Party are genuinely ambitious in their music. 'Intimacy' includes use of electronics in a Radiohead type way, yet we still have real bass and drums, for the most part. This isn't a guitar heavy album on the whole, yet the glorious 'Halo' is still peppered with melodic guitar lines. If 'Ares' and 'Mercury' are too much hitting over the head with a mallett for you, how about the lovely 'Signs'? We've got an Aphex Twin type ambient musical bed, lots of twinkling and a lovely atmosphere all round.

    We've got some groovy indie-guitar 'pumping' with the danceable 'One Month Off'. A bit of almost drum 'n' bass for 'Zephyrus' which may turn some people off, yet it works for me. What else? Well, 'Talons' continues down an electronic path yet the electronics have been married to an aggressive guitar line and much distortion as well as melody. Bloc Party never lose sight of melody whilst a Radiohead very occasionally do. 'Intimacy' closes with the six and a half minute 'Ion Square', as good a representation of the album as a whole as any. We've got beating beeps, human hearts and something to remember. Something distinctive. No, Bloc Party aren't the coolest band on earth. At times, I wonder if they are even perceived as being as cool as Shed Seven. Yet, they continue to plug away and 'Intimacy' is their greatest leap forwards so far.

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    top of page this page last updated 9/11/08

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