Bloc Party, A Weekend In The City
The second album of dark, nervy and ambitious post-punk from this English group
Bloc Party's first record stood out for its sheer ambition and professionalism, introducing one of the few indie bands willing to make earnest, wide-screen rock and play it toward the cheap seats. Normally, these aren't qualities that bode well for a second album: once your most immediate hooks run dry, "professional" starts to seem more like "dutiful," and ambition tempts you into pompous — or just boring — mistakes.
Bloc Party's immediate hooks might be running light, but their second record skirts fate awfully well, opening with a blitz of new dimensions and new ideas, and riding on through lyrics eloquent enough to support the record's "days-in-the-life" concept. The opening track finds Kele Okerere singing in a louche whisper never previously heard; the songs that follow fold in sample collage, synthesizer choirs, and strangled, computer-mauled guitar leads ("Waiting for the 7:18," "The Prayer"). And while the album's midsection comes in too by-the-numbers to live up to its earnest drama, its darkest, nerviest moments manage — unlike so many bands' attempts — to mimic the wild, good bits of Radiohead's The Bends.