on 15 March 2007
This is astounding music. Energetic but calming, spikey but ethereal.
At it's essence it is pop music, but it has an intelligence to it that cannot be overlooked. And surprisingly for a British guitar band, it isn't a rye, 'knowing' type of intelligence. Yes, Kele Okereke and his band take themselves very seriously, and yes they do look like archetypal students, but this debut is proof that they are making some the most sophisticated guitar pop in music today. The new album has a slightly bigger sound, and the themes are more urban. This album is different, the cover-art captures the shimmeringly austere sounds that are burned onto the disc.
One of my favourite records of the past 5 years.
on 15 February 2005
Well, as Indie guitar albums go, it's an extremely clever Indie guitar album.
An impressive opener, 'Like eating glass' sets the tone perfectly for 'Silent Alarm', the debut album from Essex-boys Bloc Party.
The first thing that struck me when I listened to this album was how dynamic it sounds. In a sub-cockney Pixies/duelling banjo's kinda way, the guitars seem to stick together throughout, no matter what they do, and they are doing completely different things throughout. That's before you even get to the second track, 'Helicopter', which illustrates my point perfectly. 'Positive Tension' reminds us that the rhythm section is not just there to keep time either, the punching bass line and even punchier drums lead you up to the massive ending, 'something glorious is about to happen' and indeed it does.
While 'Banquet', the debut single that somehow slipped past everyone, 'She's hearing voices' and 'Price of Gasoline' take us back to the eighties, with echoes of The Specials/Gang of Four/Buzzcocks, 'Blue Light' pulls us back, hinting at more modern influences altogether. Although, guessing the music collection of this band must be some feet, influences seem to come from all directions.
In 'Modern Love' and the (London)Radiohead 'Pioneers' we simply have it all.
By the time I'd got to 'So here we are' (the brilliant current single), I'd forgotten I was listening to the same Bloc Party who are now Radio 1 play-list favourites, and thought I'd just discovered something new and very interesting.
'Plans' then assures me that I have, 'we're all scared of the future', believe me lads you've got no reason to be.
There are so many high points to this album it is hard to sum it up. But I think it's definitely time we got over Franz Ferdinand and gave the credit too something really worth it, Silent Alarm.
on 26 September 2005
i think this album is superlative. it's raw, it's edgy, it's fusion, there are so many influences at work in this album that it's exhilarating to hear - you know that the musicians have listened to a lot of different music, and they have a lot of ideas. it's original, it's interesting, it's honest, it's very very british, seeming to come from that same ska-punk-fusion late 70s-early 80s approach, if not the sound (kele okereke's voice has the 'punk' sound, but the rest of the music crosses boundaries, some of the drumming sounding drum-and-bassish without ever falling into the trap) - there are bits of this album which make me think of kate bush at her finest moments, as strange as it may sound - totally original, thoughtful, serious, dedicated, visionary, idiosyncratic musicianship, never flawless (but who wants flawless?) - an excellent album, on first hearing i felt that a couple of the last tracks were noticeably weaker than the rest of the album, although i love the final track (compliments). the album works as a whole since the more melodic tracks act as relief against the harsher sounding, deep tracks with heavy bass and crazy guitar riffs and drum battering and these keening vocals wailing over the top. i don't listen to hype, i'm not into any one scene, i have a wide variety of tastes and in my opinion this is a great album. and i don't like franz ferdinand.
on 22 March 2005
First of all, let me just say that I'm not an expert in the field of music at all and, therefore, I find great difficulty in describing music very specifically. So, unlike a lot of people, I'm not going to prance in here acting like some sort of know-it-all ex-musical artist-come-music critic. I do know, however, when a band's good and when a band's not; when an album's good and when an album's not; when a song's good and when a song's not. Bloc Party are an awesome band; "Silent Alarm" is an awesome debut album; nearly every song on "Silent Alarm", with the exception of very few, is an awesome song. They're kind of like The Clash of '77. I highly, highly recommend this album: there's no way on Earth you'll regret it... hell, it could even be the best £10 you've ever spent. Probably the best band to come out of Britain in a long time (and, yes, I'm taking Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Keane and co. into consideration). Absolutely Fantastic... with a capital "f".
on 30 January 2005
Its only January and already we have a contender for Album and band of 2005!!!! Silent Alarm is a gem of an album - anyone who loves art-rock or post-punk will surely love this album. They have not just reinvented the wheel; bloc party have rewritten the whole genre in cintilating fashion. They have taken the post-punk/garage rock template and added lots of different soundscapes which are expansive and the songs have many layers and effects; with some very stylish guitar sounds. Kele has one of those voices that is so versatile - one minute he sounds like Damon Albarn only with more venom and vitrol in his voice the next he sounds like Robert Smith from The Cure on some of the more intimate songs like This Modern Love; which is so beautiful it would melt even the coldest of hearts. The lyrics are both political and personal but very intelligent and well thought out. There is so much energy and passion on this album - highlights include Eating Glass; Banquet; This Modern Love and Price of Gas. I havent listened to a band with this much conviction for many a year - If you thought Franz Ferdinand were the future sound of Indie music think again Bloc Party have just stolen their crown!!!
on 25 March 2006
When i first heard this album, i thought it was massively overrated. After a few listens, i found the album coming back to me during the day. Its amazing, and Playing guitar, Russel Lissacks style interests me hugely. I love Keles voice and lyrics, they are introspective and intelligent yet often anthemic. The drumming is good, particularly on opener "like eating glass". I Love most of the songs on this album. Some of them make you want to move, others are breathtakingly beautiful. Bloc party are a band that take themselves seriously, and they arent a fad. Unlike Kaiserchiefs, they are here to stay. Not in the charts necessarily, but that was never their intention.
This album is not to be missed, but needs a few listens. An awesome debut.
Half of the songs on Silent Alarm are either very, very good or excellent. The other half is phenomenal.
At first, Bloc Party were just one of the many new-up-and-coming bands that I'd heard a bit of and quite liked. Now, after purchasing this CD and seeing them live, they are my favourite band. This album represents not only the guitar-revival of 21st century Britain, but also life in 21st century Britain in general.
The songs manage to toe the line between being artistically obscure and commercially catchy, between familiarity and originality, very very well. The lyrics remind me of System Of A Down, actually, in the way that when you first hear them, they are completely unexpected and seem random, but on further listening you realise they are perfect and there is no better way to put them. The album can be heard and enjoyed at edgy-dancefloor-guitar-anthem face value, but can also be enjoyed on another level entirely if you give it the time to appreciate it's finer details fully.
The best songs are Like Eating Glass (amazing Alarm-like intro and even better ending), Helicopter (guitar riff Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park, Interpol etc would die for), Banquet (truly the best sing of the last year, flawless and addictive), She's Hearing Voices (Matt Tong's drums at their clearest level of genius), and Luno (just incredible all-round). I struggled to like the last two tracks as much as the rest of the album, mainly because they create a slow end to the album and the other 11 songs are so hard to beat! But it is listenable the entire way through.
Don't listen to anyone who tells you this is just another nu-indie-wave type album by the new Franz Ferdinand. They haven't got their facts straight and clearly haven't given Silent Alarm the time of day it demands and deserves. This is five steps ahead of every other album you will hear this yearand Bloc Party are the band that will endure the longest from the current crop.
I really can't recommend it highly enough. One of the few albums that genuinely deserves it's 5 stars.
on 3 February 2006
I have no hesitation in saying that Bloc Party are the best guitar band since The Smiths. The Smiths' legacy was waiting for a band like this and now, in my view, they have arrived.
They have better riffs than Franz Ferdinand. Their songs are not boring simplicities like Kaiser Chiefs. The album is not a few good singles and then filler, like Maximo Park. In short, Bloc Party are the only real deal.
The reason why I have made the claims above is in the music. Bloc Party have created songs that weave intelligent and musically charming guitar lines in and out, creating a tapestry of sound. The drummer, with drum'n'bass influences no doubt, adds something extra: if ever there was a drummer who wasn't just 'the drummer in that band', Matt Tong is it. He is his own unique part of this incredible four-some. Equally, bassist Gordon Moakes plays an important part as well, not least on album opener Like Eating Glass, with its jumpy rhythic bass riff.
Lyrically, on first listen one might be forgiven to think that the lyrics are simply random sentences thrown together. It requires more than a casual listen to really hear and digest the lyrics. It helps, in fact, if you read them on their own: for one thing, the messages hidden within are fairly cryptic, and for another, some of the words sound like something difference (take for instance the 'red pill blue pill' line in She's Hearing Voices. It sounded like 'Don't whack no bleep don't whack no bleep' to me!)
What is quite astonishing about Bloc Party and this album is the shimmering quality throughout. Everyone recognises the singles: Banquet, Helicopter and the delectable So Here We Are. But the rest of the album is full of single potential too: the crashing Positive Tension and She's Hearing Voices, the plaintive cry of This Modern Love, the glistening icicles of guitar on Luno, and others. Some have complained about the quiter end to the album after the frenetic pace that has gone before. But Compliments and Plans just show Bloc Party's talent at making blocs of sound that don't always shoot by, but linger in your ears. In fact, these songs as well as live set-closer The Pioneers prove hidden gems in an album where you don't look forward to hearing certain songs, but the whole thing as one.
And I think that's the key. Sure, everyone loved belting out "I PREDICT A RIOT", and dancing away to Graffiti. But listen to this album: it's magical all the way through, and truly establishes Bloc Party as THE guitar band of the decade so far.
on 18 February 2005
Bloc Party have only just arrived in the mainstream and were hyped up to be big, also the releasing of songs before their album was out helped to build hype and the long wait for Silent Alarm has ended.
Bloc Party are unlike any band i have heard before and their music is fresh and different from other genres as they border many different ones. I think they have spent time on this album as none of the tracks are filler.
They start off with Like Eating Glass which is a fast paced track with a very good bassline and catchy lyrics.
Then comes Helicopter which i have heard many times but it is still an amazing song and the guitar riff shreds away.
Positive Tension is a great song with a bassline intro which then comes into words rather than singing and then a good chorus. Then comes a very addictive guitar riff which builds into a very good solo.
Tracks blue light, this modern love and so here we are are all very mellow and beautiful tracks and she's hearing voices, the pioneers, price of gasoline and Luno are all punkier songs.
I would definitely reccomend this to fans of funk-punk and anyone who enjoys the likes of the futureheads etc.
Stand-out tracks: Like Eating Glass, Helicopter, Positive Tension, Blue Light, She's Hearing Voices and Luno.
on 20 February 2006
"Have you heard any Bloc Party?"
"No, who do they sound like?"
Bloc Party have produced an excellent album here. Edgy opener 'Like Eating Glass' sets the tone, with Kele Okerere's unique voice grabbing your attention immediately. Songs such as 'Helicopter' (which is becoming a bit of a cult classic - at least where I am!) and 'Luno' show off some thoroughly individual-sounding, upbeat indie, whilst the slower songs, particularly 'This Modern Love', are very relaxing, somewhat romantic and prove some versatility.
Lyrics are also great - again, 'Helicopter' stands out, as it's an effective, wry and subtle attack on George W. Bush, and also 'Price of Gasoline', an angry anti-Iraq war message ("The price of gas keeps on rising/Nothing comes for free").
Bloc Party show intelligence, enthusiasm and a unique sound - let's hope for more British music like this, to save of from some of the very poor music being hyped at the moment.