Thursday, March 08, 2007

Album Review: Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

It was always going to be a little difficult for Bloc Party. After releasing a debut album that was both commercially and critically salivated upon, the stakes were high. When a band releases their second effort, it seems they often follow one of two paths: they either stick to what worked on their previous album, or they might try and branch out a little. Unfortunately for the band, whichever they choose, there will be fans who deride the band for either being ‘lazy’ or ‘pretentious’ (Radiohead's Kid A, anyone?), respectively.
There have been many bands in recent years that were hugely hyped after their first album, only to release a disappointing album after. Bloc Party haven’t done this. They’ve released a good album, it’s just not great.

A Weekend In The City, Bloc Party, with the help of star producer Jacknife Lee (U2, Snow Patrol, Kasabian) decided the only way to go from their debut was bigger, brighter and bolder. From listening to the album, however, it seems that all three of those goals were attempted through the mixing desk, rather than through the band members themselves. As a consequence, while the first four tracks on the album, including the lead single ‘The Prayer’ have great riffs and pulsing drums that are now iconic of the ‘Bloc Party sound’, they lack any of the conviction that made their first album so endearing. Instead, the songs on AWITC sound decidedly hollow, which is also partially a result of so many of the tracks having long-winded openings or breaks devoted to lead singer Kele Okereke hurting my ears with his falsetto.

In trying to satisfy the entire listening public, Bloc Party have made their rock tracks sound rockier, and their ballads ‘more ballady’. However, AWITC just ends up sounding like Bloc Party diluted. While there are some great songs on the album, that will surely find their way onto indie dance floors around the world (Song for Clay, Hunting for Witches), in trying to be the jack of all trades, Bloc Party simply come off as appearing the master of none.

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