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'Hunting for witches'...I got lost hunting for tunes.,
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This review is from: A Weekend in the City [CD + DVD] (Audio CD)
I loved the first half of Silent Alarm; a great mix of menacing basslines and wicked drumming. I forgave the overly ambigous angst ridden vocals because they worked in the overal scheme of the stronger tracks. For 'A weekend in the City', the chaps have worked very hard to focus the lyrics on more tangible experiences. Too hard. I have listened to this album more than a dozen times in the last week, but it's no use. It just isn't very good.
Every track is sculpted to fit around the lyric but usually at the expense of delivering something unique musically. The lyrics themselves concentrate more specifically on the sad realisations that some of us experience going through our twenties. Our obsessions and failures; missed dreams and 'phoniness'. Now that I'm in my thirties, I still can relate, but like the 'phoniness' that Caulfied obsessed with in Catcher in the Rye, Bloc Party's messaages extend to and ultimately engulf the protaganist. That is to say, that Bloc Party are as phoney as the society they commentate on and condemn. Maybe this is intentional, it's just that there is a lack of wit and wordplay from each song to convince me they are in on the joke.
The sad fact is that the efforts in the lyric department have been at the expense of the tunes. The music is not strong enough this time around to engage you (unless you're under 15). There are not enough edgy bass hooks, the drumming - technically very strong - is a bit too Adam Ant and the choruses don't often get past average. There are some nice chords and strings here and there (on Uniform and On for example) but they don't drive the tune enough. I'm almost willing for the lead to shut up and let the tune breathe a bit more.
If I was being bitchy, I would suggest that it's almost like they've chanced upon a Tesco bag full of discarded tracks from The Editors, and married them with a collection of pubescent David Gray poems. Then thrown in a touch of sub-Cockney shoutiness.
One lyric sums it all up for me. Caulfield, sorry I mean Kele sings: "I have decided at 25, something must change." Other than making me cringe at being reminded of writing such pretentious drivel when I was in my 20s, I tended to agree with him. The change needs to come musically.
There are some rough gems here though. The real stand out track is 'Waiting for the 7.18', where in a rare moment of clarity, Aphex Twin feeling chords and everyday lyrics combine powerfully with hard funk drumming to deliver the Bloc Party mid-20s 'mid life crisis' message. 'On' is a pretty good track too (though it really does feel like a David Gray cast off).
Most people, and journalists, will rave about this album. But then most people love Keane and Snow Patrol. But Bloc Party aren't supposed to be most people are they?