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Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

Bloc Party, A Weekend In The City

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BLOC Party lead singer Kele Okereke claims that sophomore album A Weekend In The City was inspired by his interest in what he calls “the living noise of a metropolis”.

The result is an album that’s very much in tune with city life; one that reflects some of the hardships as well as some of its beauty.

It explores everything from commuting and casual sex to Friday night partying and fitting in.

Sound pretentious? There are those who will undoubtedly label it as such.

But for the most part A Weekend In The City is a terrific listen – an album that looks more than capable of surpassing the success of acclaimed debut album Silent Alarm thanks to a fuller, more coherent sound.

Lead single The Prayer spearheaded things in impressive fashion, its multi-layered intensity wonderfully offset by Okereke’s striking vocals. The chorus, especially, embraced everything that was great about first hearing Bloc Party with all that’s good about their continued progression.

A Weekend In The City does confront some serious contemporary social issues and does occasionally feel a little self-important – but it can be forgiven such indulgences because of the overall quality.

Perhaps most emotive of all is the intense Where Is Home?, a stark examination of racism that’s given extra gravitas by the fact that Okereke is, himself, a second-generation Nigerian immigrant. The confrontational lyrics include such bombshells as: “In every headline, we are reminded this is not home for us, where is?”

But given the headlines we read every day, it’s something that concerns each and every one of us – so why shouldn’t Okereke sing about it?

Elsewhere, however, there’s a haunting resonance surrounding the intricate layering of On, a slow-builder that really hits some emotional highs.

Uniform starts out with the kind of teasing riffs that have become the staple of Snow Patrol, before lashing out at the need to conform that’s rife among London’s young fashionistas (“all the young people looked the same”).

Waiting For The 7.18 hooks you in early with some enchanting melodies before unfolding on a cinematic scale – it’s story of the frustrations of the daily commute easily identifiable to anyone who’s ever stood on a crowded platform waiting for their day to begin.

Come the sweeping, anthemic chorus, with its driving guitars and thoughts of weekends away in Brighton, it’ll deliver a headrush of breathtaking intensity.

I Still Remember contains some similarly engaging hooks and rapidly emerges as another firm highlight, while Sunday offers an insight into the morning after the night before feeling that so many of us can relate to. It’s another enchanting slow-builder.

A Weekend In The City is an emphatic return from Bloc Party that’s easier to enjoy than their acclaimed debut. The presence of Jacknife Lee on production duties proves a masterstroke, as does the decision to play up the guitars and populate tracks with plenty of solos.

It means that Okereke’s vocals are capably matched by the instrumentation, a ploy that lends proceedings an even more epic feel.

The sceptics may remain unswayed but Bloc Party are here to stay and A Weekend In The City underlines emphatically why. It’s a cracking album, right through to awe-inspiring final track SRXT.

*Download picks: Waiting For The 7.18, The Prayer, Uniform, On, I Still Remember, SRXT.

Track listing:

  1. Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
  2. Hunting For Witches
  3. Waiting For The 7.18
  4. The Prayer
  5. Uniform
  6. On
  7. Where Is Home?
  8. Kreuzberg
  9. I Still Remember
  10. Sunday
  11. SRXT