If you like your bands putting out the same album three or four times than you should probably stop reading here and pick up the next tiresome indie flavor of the week. With that said, Bloc Party’s debut Silent Alarm was one of my favorite albums of 2005 (hell, I listen to the remixes and remixes are lame) and I would be lying if there wasn’t a part of me who wanted to hear more of that post-punk UK rock that I came to know as Bloc Party, but A Weekend in the City is not Silent Alarm 2 and I would like to thank Bloc Party for avoiding releasing such a sequel.
A Weekend in the City is a deeper, darker, more powerful, more developed and an all-around better record than Silent Alarm. That album had substance, but it was hard to take in Kele Okereke’s lyrics when one was too busy using the catchy guitar work and danceable drumming on party mixes. On this album the band gives you no choice but to take these words in, and now that they have your attention Bloc Party delivers something even more significant.
If you can’t tell by the name of the album, Bloc Party attempts to capture different voices that one would run into living in a typical metropolis. The voice on track one is not the same that is speaking on track three, and that’s what makes this album so engaging. The record touches on being engulfed by work in “Waiting for the 7.18” and feeling a lack of identity as a black person in Britain on “Where is Home?," among other subjects.
Then skip to “I Still Remember” and you essentially have a love song (or missing-out-on-love song), but give it another listen. Okereke himself sums it up best on blocparty.net: “The idea of two straight boys having an attraction, or there being an attraction that’s unspeakable. When was the last time you heard an interesting pop song that actually tried to give you a different perspective on desire?” With that said and lyrics like, “You should have asked me for it / I would have been brave / You should have asked me for it / How could I say no?” and Bloc Party just blew my mind.
“Sunday” is the closest we get to a real love proclaimed on Weekend as the protagonist says, “I love you in the morning / When you're still hungover.” While not nearly as potent as “I Still Remember,” this track will win the hearts of all as it finds it way on mix-tapes around the world.
The closest song that dwells in Silent Alarm territory, and if you’re just joining us I mean swift, attractive riffs and dance-inspired drumming that you would expect from UK indie rock, is "Hunting for Witches." With lyrics like, “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” one can tell that there is more to this than the instrumentals lead you to believe. The song is reflecting upon a terrorist attack on London; however, it is a theme Americans can easily relate to with the last line “Fear will keep us all in place.”
There really isn’t a terrible track on the record, but to quickly touch upon some others I haven’t mentioned yet... “Song for Clay (Disappear Here)” is the opening track and sets the mood in faultless fashion. Bloc Party hits the subject of cocaine’s appeal on the track “On” and again touches upon it quickly in “Uniform.” “Uniform” is up there with the best on the release and seems to be commentary on the trendy subculture that plagues big cities. Instrumentally speaking the track is also a standout, as guitar and drum work go along great with the lyrical buildup.
If you fell in love with Bloc Party two years ago you’re going to initially find yourself disappointed with their newest release, but if you sit down with the lyrics in hand, listen to it for a second time and still find yourself disappointed, then you have failed. I’m sorry, but this album is a luminous piece of work and everyone who said 2007 has been mediocre so far has just been woken up. As of now the whole album is streaming on their MySpace; enjoy.