A Weekend in the City
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2007, Volume 14, #5
Written by Melissa Stroh
Sun May 6, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
Ever since it exploded onto the scene a few years ago, Englandís own Bloc Party has been a regular fixture on magazine covers, and it has provided the soundtrack for college studentsí lives all over the U.K. and America. With a rapidly growing following, however, comes equally rapid judgment, and with the release of its latest album A Weekend in the City, fansí faith as well as the bandís longevity will be tested. Can these boys from London keep up with all of the hype?
A Weekend in the City provides a change of pace from Bloc Partyís debut Silent Alarm in that the new endeavor is somewhat devoid of electronic beats. Likewise, lead singer Kele Okerekeís conviction is in question, and the bandís once innovative and homegrown sounds have been replaced with run-of-the-mill, recycled grooves. Even though the group breathes new life into a dying formula on some tracks, most of the material on the album falls into a hypnotic cycle of fading vocals and fast-paced guitar riffs.
A Weekend in the City begins with Okereke sloppily pleading, "I am trying to be heroic/ In an age of modernity." That may be true, but sometimes trying just isnít enough, especially in an age of here-and-gone bands. To begin an album with these words leaves the impression that Bloc Party already has given up. The flare and intensity found in Silent Alarm have been replaced with monotonous descriptions and a "been-there-done-that" attitude. Just because its first album was phenomenal, doesnít mean the ensemble can half-ass its follow-up endeavor. Yet, thatís precisely what Bloc Party appears to have done on A Weekend in the City. As its dull lyrics and overly polished music make apparent, its creativity is missing.
Nevertheless, there are enough bright spots on A Weekend in the City that make it a decent, if not overpowering, endeavor. Thankfully, songs like Hunting for Witches and Waiting for the 7:18 fall back upon the bandís old, familiar pattern. This welcome regression includes a rapid guitar line and controversial lyrics. After all, no one wants to hear about a weekend trip to Brighton when they can listen to Okereke sing, "Iím sitting on the roof of my house/with a shotgun/and a six pack of beers." The controversy and intrigue are what attracted listeners to the group in the first place. Fantastical storylines continue with On and I Still Remember. Unfortunately, though, A Weekend in the City focuses more upon the latter than it does the former.
In Bloc Partyís defense, Silent Alarm is like a first love. Nothing will surpass it. Nothing will come close to the creativity and mayhem found within it. Although it always will pale in comparison, A Weekend in the City, when it is taken on its own merit, proves to be a decent album with some stellar individual songs.
A Weekend in the City is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box