May 20, 2007

Album Review: A Weekend in the City

Posted in Music at 2:14 am by Edward Teach

A Weekend in the City, the newest major release by British new wave/punk outfit Bloc Party, manages to take a few, firm steps forward while minimizing talk of the sophomoric elephant in the corner.

In their first album, the band displayed a tight energy (“Banquet”, “Helicopter”) juxtaposed with more open and spacey fare (“So Here We Are”). A Weekend continues this trend, with tracks such as “The Prayer”, the British single, relying on a tribal thump to accompany the often, plaintive cries of Kele Okereke and propel the album forward. Many of the other tracks, while not filler, do require more commitment on the part of the listener.

Surprisingly, the band has managed to keep much of the same feel and tone while giving the audience more depth and maturity, both lyrically and musically. On Silent Alarm, the lyrical content was both barbed and poignant at times without sounding overtly preachy or coy. A Weekend carries some emotional and political baggage that filters through more apparently than on their previous efforts. The tracks “Hunting for Witches” and “Waiting for the 7.18” and their direct commentary on the London rail bombings are one example.

Overall, this release moves much slower than Alarm. Okereke attested to the fact that band realized that their music did not have to move fast to be good before the release of the non-album single, “Two More Years”. In fact, the aforementioned single turned out to be a definitive sign of the new direction the band has taken. Despite their mediocre success in the U.S., spots in magazines as diverse as Q to Planet attest to their world-wide rise in popularity. With luck, Bloc Party may be around for awhile.

As a complete album, A Weekend works. The flabbier elements and occasional inaccessibility are mostly outdistanced by the constant tone of quality that pervades most of the material. The result – a trim and well-produced example of artistic and punk sensibilities.

B+

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