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Who Are Bloc Party?
Bloc Party are a British indie slash rock band. It is a four piece band, with my personal favourite band member been Kele Okereke, who is the lead singer. He has a beautiful voice! The band formed in 1999 and went through a range of different names before settling on Bloc Party in 2003. Bloc Party got their break into mainstream music by giving a BBC radio DJ and Alex Kapranos (lead singer of Franz Ferdinand) a copy of their demo "She's Hearing Voices". The bands debut album 'Silent Alarm' was released in 2005. It was hugely popular and by 2006 the album was certified platinum in Britain, as well as achieving the status of NME Album of the year, it also was named 'Indie Album of the Year' at the PLUG awards. They also have two other albums - A Weekend in the City (2007) and Intimacy (2008). They also have an up and coming album which is currently untitled with no official release date. I really like Bloc Party as they mix indie and rock really well, they have a very unique style and anyone who calls them copycat's are lieing - there work is the most original in the history of music! The lyrics, the instrumentals.. the whole band is just amazing - the music they compose melts in with there lyrics amazingly well, complimenting them and bringing them to life. Bloc Party aren't afraid to experiment, which is what I love about them. They do not focus on one specific emotion, subject matter or genre, however they remain true to the distinct quality of vocals, lyrics and instrumentals that made them likeable to begin with. Unlike my other favourite bands, there sound hasn't evolved over time and become unrecogniseable - if I hear a Bloc Party song on the radio, old or new, I am always able to recognise it as been there work due to the bands original and distinctive sound. I love all of Bloc Party's albums. Silent Alarm has a very rock orientated sound with guitar driven riffs, where as A Weekend In The City incorporates more electro and bass, with much more precise lyrics than the first album (in my personal opinion). Intimacy (the band's most recent album) is a mixture of both A Weekend In The City and Silent Alarm, with a more upbeat, slight 'dance' sound and tempo. I definetly think that the album I am about to review - A Weekend In The City, is the album which delves deep into the band member's personal lives (especially Kele), and gives us insights into a range of subject matters, most of which are told in first person.
The Band Members
* Kele Okereke - Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
* Russell Lissack - Lead guitar
* Gordon Moakes - Bass guitar, synths, backing vocals, glockenspiel
* Matt Tong - Drums, backing vocals
A Weekend In The City
A Weekend in the City is Bloc Party's second studio album. The album was released in January 2007 and soon became my favourite album of all time. I'd forgotten how much I love this album until I stumbled upon it while searching through my drawers for new reviewing material, and I just knew as soon as I saw it that I needed to listen to it again and review it. The moment I put the CD into the player, I got flashbacks of sitting in the back of the car eating chicken nuggets with my friend, camping in Ireland and memories came flooding back of each of songs on the album and there lyrics, (especially 'The Prayer') and how they pulled me through darker times in my life. This is the album that introduced me to both Indie music, and Bloc Party themselves.I honestly think that this album has had a positive impact on my life. The album is just bursting with emotion and I almost think of it as a person. I know, weird, but I do. I think this is because most of the songs on the album are sung in first person and Kele's voice becomes this character in my head which paints pictures and thoughts - inspiring, real thoughts, which stick with me. The character's mood changes throughout the album, unrushed. The process is gradual, subtle and realistic. Track by track, I found that the person becomes more and more real, until eventually realizing that the person is extremely similar to mself. That is how relateable the album is. It almost became a friend to me, and I honestly don't care how strange that may sound. Yes, this might not be relateable to everyone. You might listen to the first few tracks and decide it isn't for you. Fair enough. Some people might just not 'get it' - like all music, it is percieved by people in there own way. I suppose it depends if you have had similar issues to the 'character' in the song. It's a journey of thoughts and emotion during the album. One minute the character feels eager, hyped up, optimistic and looking forward to driving to the city (Brighton, if anyones curious) with a friend for the weekend ("Waiting For The 7.18"), and the next, he's feeling lost and questioning where he belongs in the world. ("Where Is Home?") The album is just a huge mix of feelings and emotion and has a wide range of topic matters from suicide bombers, homosexual tendancies, drugs, suide, love and sex.
The album artwok is very simple. It looks basic at first, but thinking about it, it is actually quite eery and creepy. The picture shows a small portion of an empty city from above (birds eye kind of view), foccusing on the road. The road is completely desserted - no cars or people at all. There is also a football pitch which is lit up in the darkness, illuminating the desserted roads. The football pitch is also completely desserted. On the top left hand corner it simply reads in white writing and uppercase font "Bloc party" with "A weekend in the city" written underneath. I do like the cover art because it's not as simple as it seems.. it did take me a while to realise how creepy it is though! Although I do like it, I personally prefer the 'Silent Alarm' album work as although it is also quite eery, it is much prettier and set in a nicer place with brighter colours. On the back of the Weekend In The City album it has a picture of the city, which focuses on the buildings - a block of flats and few smaller factory type buildings. The block of flats are all lit up which gives the faded colour tone of the rest of the picture a bit of an extra oompth. The tracklist is listed in a straight line on the left hand side on the back CD case. It is in excactly the same font as the album title and band name is on the front of the CD - white writing and uppercase font. The tracks are not numbered and have no markings or bullet points, they are simply listed in the order in which they appear on the CD.
Price and Availablity
I got this album in late 2008 from Tesco and paid around £10 for it. After a quick google search, I can see that it is currently available from a large variety of shops (both in store and online) including Amazon, Play, iTunes, most well known supermarkets, eBay and HMV. The average price seems to be around the £3-£8 mark (excluding postage charges) which I think is a reasonable price considering the amount of tracks (eleven) that the album contains - the tracks are all full length and are amazing quality.
Track 1 Song for Clay
This is the opening track. The song is inspired by a novel by the author Bret Easton Ellis called Less Than Zero whos main character's name is Clay. I have never read the book, however got a real feel for it from the song. The lyrics of the song reflect the topics discussed in the book, including the negative effects that promiscuity and the obsessive desire to seek sexual pleasure have on the human mind. This is an incredible song. It took me a while to get a feel for it, but I do really like it now. It starts off as a slow paced ballad - almost a hym, with choir boy sounding vocals which I didn't like at first but they actually add meaning to the song. When it gets around a minute into the track the instrumentals kick in - mesmerizing guitar riffs with hyper sounding drums. The vocals are pretty good although not very strong until the 3 minute and 50 second mark. Lyrics wise, it's genius, although you need to listen carefully. The lyrics are quite relateable, and really show how disconneced the character Clay (who the song is based on) is, with lines such as "when I kiss you I don't feel a thing." You can realy hear the fear in Kele's voice as he portrays the character's feelings towards himself and others. Audibility wise the lyrics aren't that clear until you've listened to it atleast twice, so it's the sort of song to listen to when you're relaxing so you can get the jist of it!
Track 2 Hunting for Witches
This is the first Bloc Party song I head, and it the song is one of my favourite songs ever! It starts out with strange sped up and chopped radio recordings which spill into each other and become a big mess of words and mixed up sentences (reflecting media and TV/radio reporters) and the song then developes into a fast paced, somewhat eery babble of guitars and drums. The lyrics were influenced by the terrorist attacks on London's transportation system in July 2005 ("As bombs explode on the 30 bus, kill that middle class indecision, now is not the time for liberal thought") which the lead singer, Kele feels strongly about, as he himself is a Londoner and the attacks took place just minutes away from his house. The 9/11 attacks are also referred to ("as airplanes crash into towers, into towers, crash into towers") and the media's (including the Daily Mail's) reaction to the attacks is scrutanized. It also touches upon the amount of control the media has over modern society, with the lyrics ("All reasonable thought is being drowned out) hinting that the feeling of the song is focused on the conspiracy/personal view of the band that the Media is brain washing the public into believing certian things ("The newscaster says the enemy's among us") The thing that stands out to me in this song is most definetly the guitar riff - I love the sharp noises that the electric guitar produces, especially the very 'strange' sounds that it makes at times, it makes the song very unique and easily recogniseable, although I do also love the drums - every drumbeat sounds so clear and sticks out like a sore thumb which in my opinion adds a bit of quirkiness, and I also love when the smoothe bassline makes an entrance. The vocals are suprisingly upbeat, while the lyrics speak truth, with every word spoken as if the song is aimed at specifically you. The song topic is dark, but it adds bits of truth and 'food for thought', and sends mixed messages of both hope, frustration and also despair for the future, fearing that because of our CCTV culture, we will be leaving in fear.
Track 3 Waiting for the 7.18
The intro of this song is just beautiful. It's like fairy music or something, lol. I am not particulary postitive but I think it's a glockenspiel. The vocals kick in at 20 seconds and Kele's voice is nice and soft and the vocals are easy to understand. The drums then kick in, and then the guitar comes into the song and the vocals go a bit wild. The song is quite hard to put my thumb on - i'm not completely certain of the meaning, but my personal take on the song is that he is remising on his past and wasted time. He wishes he had 'lived' more - (If I could do it again, id climb more trees, i'd pick and i'd eat more wild blackberries) and also the frustration of growing up and how he misses his childhood/old life ("Grinding your teeth in the middle of the night with the sadness of those molars". Molars are the last teeth to grow in the human mouth, and breaks through the surface of the gum at the average age of twenty, which I feel backs my theory up that the song reflects growing up and the memories he wishes he could of made as he feels his life is now rather empty, and fantasizes of going back in time and reliving certain aspects of his life to the full ("I'd make more mistakes, i'd not be so scared of falling") The violins in this song are a lovely touch, making it such a sort of ballad type song and it is so beautiful, especially the beginning.
Track 4 The Prayer
This is a brilliant song and probably another of my all-time favourites. This was the first single from the 'A Weekend In The City" album, and it is the band's highest charting single worldwide. I perciev the song to be about a guy who is addicted to drugs. He takes the drugs to enchance his personality and abilities ("And I will charm, I will slice, I will dazzle them with my wit") as without the drugs, he is socially unsure, and finds that the drugs give him confidence and wit, making him feel invincible and better than his peers - he just wants to be the guy who everyone loves. He craves acception and credability from others. The drugs take away any bad feelings he has about situtations, ensuring he makes the most out of every oppurtunity. It's a dark song when you listen to the lyrics, however the lyrics are not 'obvious', I had no idea what they meant when I first heard the song. Another theory I have is that the song is about someone's first night out with a new group of friends, and feeling the pressure to go along with whatever they want to stand out from the crowd and gain recognition and popularity. The video sort of backs this theory up, as the band members are seen sitting in a club watching other's on the dance floor having a good time, but for whatever reason (insecurity, lack of social skills) they don't seem to be able to bring themselves to. I love the electric guitars and the heavy, buildable instrumentals in this song and Kele's strong, passionate vocals. It is the sort of song that pumps adrenalin and confidence into me ("Lord, give me grace and dancing feet, let me outshine them all") and it is ideal for listening to while running to spur you on that bit more.
Track 5 Uniform
Love, love, love! I love this song, I really do. It speaks so much truth without been too over the top or going into uneccersary politics and detail. It is about how Kele is frustrated with how people, especially teenagers, conform to fashion and looking in a certain way ("All the young people looked the same, wearing their masks of cool and disinterest") and it also touches on the subject how the TV and internet influence people in an unpositive manner ("The TV taught me how to sulk and to love nothing") Kele feels as if he is the odd one out as he doesn't conform (nor believes in conforming) to society. The guitar is great and really progresses throughout the song.
Track 6 On
The intro has quite a grimey feel to it until the soft vocals kick in. The song is a love song.. about Cocaine, and Kele has confirmed this in several interviews. The lyrics are really meaningful. ("And when it runs out, we find more") The cocaine switches him on, ready for a night out. It takes him from been shy and stuttery, into feeling confident and invincible ("I can charm them all.") It has a very sad and desperate feeling to it (especially the middle to end).. like there is no hope left but he is telling himself desperately that he needs the drugs to be himself. I love this song, it's gorgeously meaningful and real.
Track 7 Where Is Home?
I think this song is about a woman loosing her son, and she is reminising about the past. It has racial lyrics in there discussing the lead singers frustration that ("in every headline we are reminded that this is not home for us, where is it? where is home?") and he is talking about what happened in the past with the mistreatment of coloured people ("we all read what they did to the black boy") Kele's cousin was stabbed to death in london over a racial argument so this is obviously a very close to home subject and the emotion in his voice is very strong. I think it also demonstrates the confusion with young people who have been brought up in the UK, but whose parents/grandparents are immigrants. ("the second generation blues, our point of view not listened to")
Track 8 Kreuzberg
The opening of the song is so soft and slow with a gentle guitar riff. It is really relaxing. Then Kele starts singing about the Berlin wall very softly. The song focuses on the frustration of finding another half (partner). ("I was sure I'd found love with this one lying with me") At the age of 25, he is sick of been single ("I have decided at twenty-five, something must change." While on holiday, Kele searches in Berlin on a Saturday night for his other half (a partner), but only finds people who want one night stands ("after sex, the bitter taste, been fooled again, the search continues" which upsets and frustrates him, making him feel used and betrayed ("concerned mothers of the west, teach your sons how to truly love") I love this song, and would probably class it as one which is the most close to my heart. It's definetly the most indie type of song on the album and it is massively understated.
Track 9 I Still Remember
This is a lovely song! It is about Kele's homosexual tendancies and his first gay relationship/crush when he was back at school. ("Over playgrounds and rooftops, now every park bench screams your name, I kept your tie") and becoming close to the boy he is attracted to ("blood beats faster in our veins, we left our trousers by the canal") He is reminising over this relationship and the regret he feels for not taking it further, but reassures the person he is talking about that he still remembers those feelings.
Track 10 Sunday
This song has got a really upbeat intro with quirky drums. It is not there best song by far but it's still good. It's very subtle and generally relaxing, and Kele's voice is softer and more emotional then ever. It's about the love that he feels for the person he's singing about, which I personally percieve to be a one night stand ("I'll still love you in the morning when you're still hungover"), I think it's about been infactuated with somone and intrigued.
Track 11 SRXT
This is the last track on the album. It's a beautiful song and a perfect finale to the album. The subject matter isn't great, as it's quite obvious when you listen to it that it is about suicide, suidical feelings and depression. The song title SRXT refers seroxat, an anti-depressant drug. Kele said in an interview that it's about college graduates who finish school and can't find purpose in life, so want to kill themselves. The emotion builds up as the song progresses, and it is a very significant song. The ending signifies that the character that this song is focussed on commits suicide, and it's an ending that never fails to make me cry. ("Walking in the countryside, it seems that the winds have stopped. Tell my mother I am sorry, and I loved her")
An album filled to the brim with emotion (both good and bad emotion, as you will of noticed!), but it has a side to it which is extremely inspiring and meaningful. One i'd highly reccomend.
English Indie rock band Bloc Party consists of Kele Okereke, Russell Lissack, Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong. Lead Singer and rhythm guitarist Okereke born in Liverpool to Nigerian parents and guitarist Lissack born in Chingford were once old high school friends, luckily their paths crossed once more at the Reading festival in 1999 and decided to form a band. Bassist Moakes joined after answering an advertisement in NME magazine whilst drummer Tong was a successful audition applicant. After several name changes 2003 gave us 'Bloc Party' it's believed that the name comprises of two elements 'Bloc' as a merging of the eastern blocks and 'Party' derived from the western parties, nothing too political here, just something they believed to work.
* Kele Okereke - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
* Russell Lissack - lead guitar
* Gordon Moakes - bass guitar, backing vocals, synthesiser
* Matt Tong - drums, backing vocals
Their style of music has changed slightly over the years becoming more layered and variant, after the raw spiky indie guitar riffs from Silent Alarm, to a now more layered, technical feast involving many electronics, computer mastery and additional instruments. Could the success of debut album 'Silent Alarm' be continued with their second offering and complete new sound which is 'A Weekend in the City'...
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A WEEKEND IN THE CITY
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Second studio album 'A Weekend in the City' was released January 2007, peaking at number two in the UK album charts, and an impressive number twelve spot on the Billboard 200 in the US. The inspiration behind the album was local culture; an assault and examination of life in the capital, the naked truth about sexuality feature prominently, possibly referencing to Kele's own homosexual tendencies. Also on the agenda, we have war and politics, the media outlook on the young black community, murder, drug use, terrorism and religion.
Bloc Party's new sound divided critics and fans alike, commercially it became a hit outselling its predecessor in the process, but was the new sound a tighter package? Lead single 'The Prayer' became Bloc Party's highest chart success peaking at number four. Other singles released were 'I Still Remember' and 'Hunting for Witches'.
Majority of critics lauded their second offering describing it as an "tender and reflective, edgy and embittered; a difficult and emotional beast that jolts with nervous electricity" other citing "dirty, dishevelled, unsure and paranoid; fearful, easily distracted, boisterous and ashamed; reckless, wild, nervous and terrified; graceful, thought-provoking, clumsy and contradictory ... and very nearly perfect."
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1 SONG FOR CLAY (Disappear Here) (4.49) 8 / 10
Brett Easton Ellis's novel 'Less than Zero' was the inspiration behind Song for Clay, referencing protagonist Clay and a billboard in the book which depicts the phrase 'Disappear Here' Song for Clay is about the effects on excessive hedonism on an individual. "I am handed a pill and I swallow it with complete disdain / Kick drum pounds off beat high hats remember to look bored / We suck each other's faces and make sure we are noticed / The cocaine won't save you" Stripped back opening as Okereke's intimate falsetto conveys a yearning ambiance, after the quiet intro keyboard and guitars kick in, unearthing a rock but yet still implosive sound. The drum line remains steady, to an angular distorted riff; the chorus hook is engaging and energetic. Endearing opening, the composition is very technical and smart, the lyrics bright, fantastic opener.
2 HUNTING FOR WITCHES (3.31) 6 / 10
Third single released of the album, Hunting for Witches is about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and on London's transportation system in 2005 most notable the bus in Hackney which was blown up, as it's around the corner from where Kele lives, It also stresses about the amount of control the media have over the public and how they trade by fear. "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" Starts with broken up distorted radio or TV broadcasts, before some funky synthesizers and electronics get us moving. The track is largely based around a heavily distorted guitar riff, which is spiky and catchy. The layered guitars, computer glitches and electronic element all combine mixing up the composition nicely. I think personally that this song needs time to grow on you, but it's solid enough.
3 WAITING FOR THE 7.18 (4.17) 6 / 10
Ballad waiting for the 7.18 is a thoughtful look on things, contemplating the disillusionment of working life, an edge of escapism I think before mocking the simplicities of other commuters waiting for the 7.18. "Waiting for the seven eighteen / January is endless / weary-eyed and forlorn" Charismatic intro featuring delicate strings and glockenspiel as Kele intimately breaks into song. Very technical as the tricky drum line plays in time to computer programmed noises. It features some frenetic hooks, and some angular guitar riffs, but unfashionably light, not to in your face, the drum and bass gives it a dark feel as we step into the second half of the track, the layering of glockenspiel, xylophones and synthesizers gives a good mix, and pretty arrangement, complex and calculating, another track that has to grow on you though.
4 THE PRAYER (3.44) 5 / 10
First single to be released and one of Bloc Party's most successful, The Prayer is a look at the drinking and drugs culture in society and clubs, analysing modern culture and people's social experiences. "Tonight make me unstoppable / and I will charm, I will slice / I will dazzle them with my wit" Very dark intro, humming echoed by a heavy dark drum line. Another track built around computers and electronics kicking of some imaginary raw beats. Melodic layered vocals to resemble a Church like choral section, fitted in and around mixed up layered guitars, that jump and splatter about, the logistics and industry make a complex composition but full of energy, a prominent guitar solo to finish us off, another track I feel has to grow on you, but strangely I've never warmed to this song, I appreciate the arrangement and everything gone in to it, but find it a little heavy and dark at times.
5 UNIFORM (5.32) 9 / 10
Uniform issues a look at the modern culture, and the exploitation of advertisements, it also refers to the youth subculture of in and around London, and the negativity and criticism surrounding them. "Cause we're so handsome and we're so bored / so entertain us, tell me a joke" Whirling Electronics and synthesizers give a haunted atmosphere, angular riff, and layered guitars poignant throughout. Endearing tones from Kele, joined with layered vocals throughout. Half way through a drum machine kicks in to enhance the speed; integral part of the track is its industry and complexity of the composition. I really like some of the hooks in this, the different sounds are electrifying and pretty awesome, one of the highlights of the album for me, but not sure if it would stand as a single alone.
6 ON (4.46) 9 / 10
On essentially is explaining the actions of drug users, specifically cocaine, and the appeal of the said drug to dismiss fears and inhibitions of a normal society. In no way is it stating the acceptance of drug use, more the understanding of why they become appealing, and how it pulls you in. "A sudden clearness, a clarity / Hidden away, in every locked toilet / I've been waiting for you in the Joiners Arms" The nervous composition and electronics, give the feel of coming down from a high, constant drum beats and bass chords, accompany a string sextet, the chorus is suggestive and melodic, Kele's voice is back at it's best, raw and soulful. Quite a lot of feeling and emotions put into this but in a quiet way, it's submissive, a highlight for me.
7 WHERE IS HOME? (4.54) 5 / 10
Quite a sensitive little track, as we begin this journey of Christopher Alaneme a young black teenager stabbed to death in 2006. Kele penned this as attribute to his 'cousin' as they both are of Nigerian mothers. It's also an attack on the portrayal of the young black community, and how they are feared, thanks to the negativity of the right wing press. "I want to stamp on the face of every young policeman / To break the fingers of every old judge / To cut off the feet of every ballerina" Echoing, stuttering electronics and synthesizers, we then sample some strange shaky lyrics from Kele, drum machine, and electronics feature prominently, erratic sounds, all a bit mixed up and chaotic, slightly haunting in approach, I'm not sure this works, the singing seems computerised and stutters to much, one to miss.
8 KREUZBERG (5.27) 9 / 10
Kreuzberg is about an area in Berlin, accounting tales of promiscuity, this further adds fuel to the debate on Kele's sexuality, and this offering explores sexuality and homosexuality, the yearning for casual intimate sex. "I was sure I'd found love with this one lying with me / Crying again in the old bahnhof" Back to Indie basics, layered guitars, simple melodies and great rhythm, it's not over elaborate like of the songs before it. Throbbing slow sounds throughout to Kele's harrowing soulful tones, up shifts towards the chorus, high arrangement, sexy bass line, oozes appeal and ever so catchy and yearning with passion, love it!
9 I STILL REMEMBER (4.23) 8 / 10
I Still Remember is the second single to be released of the album, This song explores more ideals of homosexuality, implying even further about Kele's sexuality, as he reminisces about an unrequited crush on a boy at school, whether the tale is about him, we are not totally sure but it seems fairly obvious, as he describes in detail the level of intimacy, and friendship that took place. "Blood beats faster in our veins / we left our trousers by the canal / and our fingers, they almost touched" Stripped back again, less confusion in the arrangement, a proper indie feel again, steady feverish rhythm, that's engaging and charismatic, it's chorus is melancholic, a real sweet melody. Simple but ever so effective, really gets your feet tapping to the constant beat, an uplifting little number.
10 SUNDAY (4.59) 10 / 10
Another ballad, about drunken promiscuous nights out, and the following morning hangovers that a Sunday brings. Further evidence in the lyrics "Head on my chest and a silent smile, a private kind of happiness / you see giant proclamations are all very well" show Kele's homosexual tendencies, to his private kind of happiness. Some sexy drum lines kicks us off, with a long intro, a fizzing bass accompanies Kele's soulful engaging tones, almost yearning in his approach, some good backing vocals, before the percussion breaks us into the chorus as the fizzing bass takes control. Ever so simple arrangement, slowing back down for the drum and I think synthesizers to take over, before Kele's kicks back in. Back to Indie basics once more, thoroughly enjoyable, emotional little number, Kele's voice is just adorable in this and my favourite, but it does have to grow on you.
11 SRXT (4.51) 6 / 10
SRXT is an abbreviation for the anti depressant Seroxat, as the track reminisces over two of Kele's friends as they try to commit suicide, we follow their despair and loneliness in the form of a suicide note "If you want to know what makes me sad / Well it's hope, the endurance of faith / A battle that lasts a lifetime / A fight that never ends" So we finish with another chilling ballad, that starts slow and only rises near the end as it gathers a little momentum before we back off to the initial mournful beat, it's slightly echoing, but ever so passionate and heartfelt, with inspirational pinging percussion, and background vocals, it's very depressive and mournful, and a decent way to end the album.
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Bloc Party's second album is a notable shift in sound from its predecessor; it's a chaotic dense machined masterpiece, rammed with electronics, layered vocals and guitars. The compositions are intelligent and integral to their new sound, drum machines, synthesizers and technology used to industrialise new darker broader sounds. Looped rhythms, spiralling riffs, and the synthetic, electronic edge, gives 'A Weekend in the City' plenty of appeal. Having said that at times it's too complicated, jumbled up and the riffs and interplay become monotonously the same.
The lyrics play an important part to the music, as we set about depicting life in London through emotional angered eyes. Like the music the lyrics and themes are layered, many stories fitting into each other, voiced through characters eyes but you sense it's through Kele's very own. It's a bleak outlook on life, but what makes it so engaging is that it's not trying to preach, after all musicians are best at playing music not professing to the young and weak like some other artists seem to do, a world of loneliness, religious hypocrisy, racism, paranoia, homophobia and sexuality, war, terror are packed in, and what's more it works. It's thought provokingly dark, at times hard but ultimately honest and tender.
Has there new sound improved? Well probably not, I absolutely adore the first album, and where this album is better in some aspects, musically I think it's a small step backwards, however it was trying to fit into very large shoes. It's more cultured, probably manufactured better, and it's embarrassingly vulnerable, but it's ultimately all about the sound, the angular raw riffs are not evident, and replaced by very similar riffs that are not so appealing, and the mood is just sadder giving the album a more post-punk than indie theme. What I would say though it the album does need time to grow on you, I was really disappointed when I initially listened, and the tracks released as single further fuelled my disappointment, which is where I think they missed a trick, in my opinion the album tracks far outweigh the singles.
Who would this appeal to? Well I think Bloc Party are a step ahead of the Indie British music scene in it's diverseness, but they don't appeal to the masses such as the mainstream Indie bands, Razorlight, Kasabian, Biffy Clyro etc.... there sound is industrious enough for a broader audience, it's a more underground, hardcore feel maybe similar to Arcade Fire, in it's moody atmospheric sense. It's good, but not quite perfect, and I'd recommend it, but if your new to the band, then the first album in my opinion is much more appealing.
PRICE / ADDITIONAL FORMATS:
All Amazon prices
CD & Downloads :
£4.94 for the standard edition.
£5.25 for special edition, which includes fourth single 'Flux'
£4.94 to download the album on mp3
Vinyl: Two LP versions of A Weekend in the City were released: a standard black vinyl copy in a gatefold sleeve and a limited edition picture disc version that has the album cover printed on Side A and the track listing printed on side B. £13.99
DVD : A new version of the CD+DVD was released in the UK and Europe in November 2007. This DVD contains live footage of the band at the 2007 Reading Festival and music videos for the album's four singles. £4.99
After the widely acclaimed and well received "Silent Alarm", much pressure was on Bloc Party to deliver with that dreaded second album. Too often, bands do the hard part easily, and follow it up with something tame and ultimately career ending. While this may not exactly apply to Bloc Party, it is hardly a departure from the much famed second album syndrome.
The album is nice enough. The melodies are pretty and dainty, with lots of interesting chords and choruses, the lyrics still stupid but occassionally insightful, and the songs just as easily listenable - but there's something missing. Silent Alarm had "umpf", it had heart and passion, and it contained the kind of songs that would get pumped through indie clubs week after week during the height of it's popularity. This album has no such standouts. As an overall album is moves along quite amiably. There are some special moments, for example "Sunday" and "Kreuzburg". But it's all a little quiet, and understated. It's as if the ambition has gone, or just that they weren't sure where to go. It sounds good, and it evokes some intriuging thoughts, but it's never going to be a classic, and it's never going to propel them even further into the heights of popularity among the UK's rock/indie and even pop scene.
Bloc Party are a band that you cannot just like, their a bit like marmite, you either love them or hate them. Personally since i saw them perform at Reading Festival 2008, i love them. The vocals from bloc party are alike that of no other band in this genre, the harmonies are somewhat sweeter, and the lead singers voice holds so much emotion in each word he sings.
A weekend in the city is in my opinion the best album that Bloc Party have produced so far, the big tracks from this album include Flux, I still remember and hunting for witches. The best song on this album is Flux , it wins hands down. The song has a great club feel, and its great to just hold up your hands and dance to, a great festival number! However not all the songs on the album are fast paced and over-catchy, I still Remember is a great example, a brilliant indie track, great lyrics which anyone who ever had to leave something or someone behind can relate to.
Overall it really is a great album, and since Bloc Party have released Intimacy this one can be found a lot cheaper at various different CD outlets, so go buy!!!!
For a band that did very well in their debut year, i was intrigued by the thought of a second album. Mainly the song The Prayer, was the reason i checked this album out and i'm disappointed at why i did.
The album cover art is an improvement and CD physical wise, it's quite stunning really.
The album is shorter, and only has 11 songs but there is a mixture of very good songs and some OK songs. It seemed as if to cash in on their original success they felt the need to rush release a second album which disappointed me.
A Weekend In The City contains a variety of original and pop like records. I like that their first album was mainly a rock record that seemed authenic and repersentive of the band they are and they music they like and want to make. I felt this second album contains more commerical pop like records than the first and that their originality has therefore been drained away in the process.
Never the less, this album contains some very good songs in the form of the very insanely catchy The Prayer. That song has a great chorus and an even better video if not on the risque side but it is catchy and it did well for them radio and tv airplay wise. Other highlights included Hunting For Witches, vocally much improvement Well Done Keli!!
I thought the opener Song For Clay is fantastic, really sets the mood fore the rest of the albium. Sunday was a very weak song they should have left off - tehre's nothing there. I Still Remember has some catchy hooks to it, but again it's not them it sounds more pop and they are cashing in on something they think sells but i liked them more before. Uniform is a classic song, i think that should have been released. I found Where Is Home quite emotional and i did think Waiting For The was more the Bloc Party we liked but it seemed rushed. Instruments too loud on some songs. The final song SRXT redeems itself for the album though.
A decent second album but this isn't the Bloc Party we know and love, they've changed to be more commerical and to sell more records. I think they should have stuck to their own rough and original sound instead of becoming more pop than rock.
The next step on from silent alarm. that tough second album. hmm did it work?
I can remember when it came out, waiting anxiously to find out if all the hype and talk of dramatic change to their sound was something i was going to enjoy. I'd heard 'the prayer', and loved it, but needed to know about the rest!
well, if you've heard the prayer and not enjoyed it, don't write off this album. its incredible the way that i sway to and from each track on it, falling in and out of love with alternate tracks- it is easily possible to- like their first album it works as an album.
Another exciting opening to the album with 'songs for clay', with it tailing off towards the end with lush tracks like 'sunday', this really is anyone's album.
All i ask you to do however, is to give it time. each track takes time to be developed with your ear due to its complex sound, and is definitely worth its end result- fantastic.
a weekend in the city - bloc party's second album - is brilliantly unique. its hard to say if its better than their debut but certain songs definitely stand out as ones to be remembered. the first single off the album - the prayer - is actually one that i never listen to. it just doesnt get me going at all! hunting for witches is reassuringly haunting, especially the riffs and hooks. and keles voice really suits the bloc party sound. i still remember sounds a lot more radio friendly and again has an infectious yet simple riff. another favourite of mine is 'on'. not a ballad as such, but a slower sound which, again, has a slightly distanced and mellow feel to it. the lyrics, as ever, are simple yet go deep. 'you make my tongue loose' being one of the lines in the chorus of 'on', for example. this is a great album for any fan of indie/pop/rock and once you have heard this album you will want to see them live! i have and they were just amazing
The ever-daunting second album. After the great success of their first, Silent Alarm, Bloc Party have returned in 2007 with A Weekend in the City. But with so many bands releasing second albums this year Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys etc can they achieve what many dont, and make a better album second time around?
Now, Im reviewing this after just two listens, and I found their debut needed a few before I got into it and became addicted, so with that in mind, can this effort grab the listener first time around? Or not at all?!
Opening track Song For Clay (Disappear Here) seems to monotonously crawl in for the first minute until the distorted guitars and drums kick in very much in an indie/new wave style of New Born by Muse. Instantly, you can hear the Bloc Party-style of music frenetic drums, quick guitar riffs and jumpy lyrics.
Hunting For Witches decides is to my mind, a poor mans version of Helicopter from the first album although dont let that put you off, as that itself was an awesome song. This one just doesnt kick off perhaps its to do with the mixing of the album?
Unfortunately Waiting for the 7.18 drifts by the wayside to after the first couple of listens. Yes, it does burst into life with a couple of minutes to go, but nothing of great impetuous but dont worry, things will start picking up a bit now
The first single off the album, The Prayer starts off with a dark drumbeat and humming. This is, on first listen, just another song, but after a couple of listens, the melodic choruses juxtaposed with the pacey, jumpy verses works almost perfectly. Its a style Bloc Party uses near to perfection in Silent Alarm, and hey, if it aint broke, why fix it?!
Uniform perhaps proves that, along with a couple of the other previous tracks, that the band are opting for a different style starting very slowly, then bursting into life after a minute or two. A bit of a big guitar solo to whip this one into a frenzy too as previously said, things are picking up now.
On and Where is Home? both follow the pattern of slow starts, big finishes the latter of the two being far stronger than the former. I Still Remember is the second single from the album, and you can certainly understand why. Its on a par with The Prayer as being the best song on the album. Again, its reminiscent of their first outing, and maybe Im just a fan of their early stuff compared to this performance, as this wouldnt be out of play on Silent Alarm.
The album is finished off with Sunday and SRXT the latter doesnt deserve to be lost so far back in the album, and thankfully with I Still Remember just before it, at least the good tunes are continuing. SRXT is thankfully not quite what I would dub a-last-song-on-the-album-track which merely flows along, never getting out of second gear. Instead it does finally burst into a crescendo of free-flowing music, just what Bloc Party are good at. Its a shame however that there are a few tracks on this album that fit the bracket of last-song-on-the-album.
So, how good is this album? Firstly, A Weekend in the City is not as good as Silent Alarm in my opinion, but then again, youre opinion could be completely different. However, their complexity in lyrics shows an excellent growing of age. Available on Amazon for £7.98, or £8.99 with an additional DVD, its worth a listen, especially if youre a fan. If youre new to them, Id advise you to go for Silent Alarm
So then, no its not as good as Silent Alarm if it was it would be one of the best albums of the past decade. Its a fair effort at a follow-up to a top album, but thats all it is. Shame.
In 2005, the debut album from Bloc Party was amongst my favourite of the year. It seemed to offer something a little different to the other bands that were around at the time. That was then and while Silent Alarm still features on my Ipod and CD player the band were faced with a difficult task. They had to come up with a second album, something that enhanced their reputation after Silent Alarm. This wasn't going to be easy and many people thought that Bloc Party would fall foul of the difficult second album syndrome that seems to plague bands. So this year seen them come up with something and a few weeks ago, Weekend In The City was released.
To ensure that the band didn't fall into the trap of releasing something just for the sake of it they enlisted the help of well known producer Jacknife Lee. He'd previously worked with both Kasabian and Snow Patrol so the signs that he could help Bloc Party were promising. The four piece from Essex wouldn't be happy with a mediocre release themselves and that's why almost exactly 2 years after the first album they have returned.
The result is an album that actually borders on being better than the debut. I felt after a couple of listens that this album offered a sound that would perhaps stand the test of time a little more. Having now had the CD in the car almost constantly since its release my opinion certainly hasn't changed on that score. Of course the experience of the last couple of years has matured the bands music, but the lyrics still seem to carry the same message. It still shows the sense of frustration the band have with peoples attitudes towards each other and general situations.
It starts with a slow intro that, using Kele's vocals really sets up the tone for the album. The intro to the track soon picks up and this seems to be the story of the album. It has a lot of contrast in terms of slow, mellow pieces combined brilliantly with much more upbeat, in your face Indie rock. Unlike a number of guitar driven Indie bands, Bloc Party seem to mix between the guitars and the drums really taking the lead on all the tracks. The bass provides an accompaniment throughout, while the drums and guitars really give the album a real purpose and drive.
The musical element of Bloc Party certainly seems to have matured and the lyrics seem to be far more intense than the previous album. The range of subjects covered from Love to the attacks on the twin towers, there is a lot of scope. The type of tracks and the style of the lyrics really suit Kele's vocals and that perhaps lends more credence to the appeal of each track than if had been anyone else singing. The first album already seemed to have a hint of maturity to the lyrics but the vocals and lyrics on this album are even better.
It's not an album you'll love on first listen and while I could see this would be an album that would stand the test of time. I have to say it took me a lot longer to get into than Silent Alarm. The whole album is quite slow burning, but within about a week of listening to it certain tracks did start to stand out. The likes of recent single "I Still Remember" has quite a haunting sound to it and with a nice pace and decent vocals it certainly is one of my favourite tracks on the album. There is something catchy about it that means you can't help but like it.
There are two tracks that I just can't split between being my favourite from the album. The first is a very low key, but very touching track, "Kreuzburg". It has a slow melody and a nice steady beat, whilst Kele's vocals really seem to bring the song to life. The amount of emotion and feeling in the track really make it easy to listen to. At the opposite end of the scale is the next single to be taken from the album, "Hunting For Witches". It's a much more upbeat track that really seems to be lead by the drums. Once the guitars and vocals join in it really gives a sense of what the new Bloc Party material is all about. The vocals are sublime and with a very catchy, upbeat track it definitely makes for a good choice as a single.
So have they managed to overcome the tricky second album? I'd definitely say so. In fact I actually think this album is a much stronger album than the first. It has a slightly different sound and that might put a few fans off. It doesn't however contain any weak tracks. There are a few that take much longer to get into but in the end this is a very solid album. Fans of the band will really like it, perhaps not at first but you've got to give it a chance to grow on you. It's an album I'd be happy to recommend to anyone who likes guitar driven Indie tracks. If your not familiar with Bloc Party it's a good introduction to the band and an album I'm sure I'll be listening too for a long time to come.
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Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
2 Hunting For Witches
3 Waiting For The 7.18
7 Where Is Home
9 I Still Remember