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on 16 February 2005
Another year, another band hyped to the heavens. Alex Kapranos's band took the world by storm last year, so it comes as no surprise that 2005's new hopefuls, Bloc Party, should be touted as the next "Franz". Certainly the Londoners have got the look- there's no mistaking Kele Okereke's grinning mug, nor Russell Lissack's so-indie-you-want-to-kill-him fringe. But do they pay off in the music stakes? Are they just another bunch of bland fashionista wagon jumpers, or maybe something halfway interesting?
First off it does 'Silent Alarm' no favours to compare it to 'Franz Ferdinand'. True, they start off somewhere similar, both brandishing Television and Gang of Four influences. But whilst Franz are off bopping in a disco, winking knowingly at the ladies (and guys), Bloc Party are more likely to be found staring out of a rain bruised window, trying to decide if they're angry or sad about the state of the world. Sure, 'Helicopter' swaggers with a bass line that's practically spitting with rage, but then 'This Modern Love' and 'Blue Light' are terrifically atmospheric and tense. Opener 'Like Eating Glass' sounds like a loose Interpol, and the terrifying closing track 'Compliments' could have fallen off the back of Kid A. Silent Alarm certainly isn't an immediate experience, which might explain the handful of poor reviews it's been getting. Give it time, guys! I still haven't got a feel for 'So Here We Are' or 'The Pioneers', it doesn't stop me listening and waiting for their charm to unfurl.
In the end, the album probably is a bit too long- things sag a bit in the middle, understandable given the terrific string of hits it opens with. But Silent Alarm is Marquee Moon crossed with OK Computer tearing chunks out of Turn On The Bright Lights. Surely that concept alone is enough?
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on 10 January 2005
I downloaded this album completely illegally before its release but one of the first things I will do on February 14th is go out and buy it because if there is one thing bloc party deserve for their debut effort it is payment. It is certainly a fine record the likes of which I have not heard since 2002's "turn on the bright lights" saw Interpol burst onto the scene. Similarly bloc party's music owes a lot to the early eighties but the true beauty of this album is how many different genres it seems to encompass and in doing so creating something unique and special. Stand out tracks include "positive tension" which begins with a thumping bassline and vocalist Kele Okereke almost rapping before exploding into graham coxon like power chords has he proclaims, "something special is about to happen." And he is not wrong the ensuing guitar work is what jonny greenwood would sound like if he wanted to get people dancing. But whilst many of Bloc Party's tunes will be adorning the floors of indie clubs worldwide perhaps their greatest talent lies in their more subdued numbers. "This Modern Love" and "So Here We Are" in particular are stunning in their beauty and pure musicality.
Silent Alarm is an album, which at times seems like a summation of some of the best music of the past 25 years and at times seems completely fresh and unique but whatever influences it draws from it is always majestic and is certainly destined for great things.
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on 16 February 2005
Anyone who's read a copy of the NME since June will know who Bloc Party are. Anyone who's been awake throughout the last month will have seen the hype surrounding Silent Alarm, Bloc Party's debut release.
Thankfully, it fully lives up to the hype. Songs like 'Helicopter' and 'The Pioneers', in my opinion could make this the debut album of the year. That's if the Kaiser Chiefs fail to release theirs at all . . . OK, second best debut of the year, but still.
The singles are not, in my opinion, the very strongest of the album. Admittedly 'Helicopter' grabs you, but 'Banquet' and 'So Hrer We Are' are surpassed by many of the other songs, which sound far superior.
The quality of the lyrics, the riffs, the fantastic guitar section in 'She's Hearing Voices': this album is just a fine example of ordered chaos. And it sounds bloody good. My favourite lyric of the record being: 'We promised the world we'd tame it. What were we hoping for?' from 'The Pioneers', a song that shimmers with tension, with emotion and most of all with beauty.
If 2004 was the best year for British music in a long time, let 2005 be even better, and let the Bloc lead the way.
Kele, Russell, Matt and Gordon: I salute you.
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on 15 February 2005
2004 was arguably one of the best years for British music full stop. OK, 90's Britpop was good, but honestly, only Oasis, Blur, Pulp and a handful of groups held it together. The new wave of British music is supported by a wealth of talent, with 'proper' bands such as 'Franz Ferdinand', 'Razorlight', 'The Futureheads', 'Kasabian' 'Snow Patrol'...(the list goes on) holding the flag for British music as a force to be reckoned with. Then there are 'The Killers' and 'The Scissor Sisters', who, while not technically British, we like to claim as our own. So can 2005 follow suit? Early predictions indicate a resounding YES!
'Bloc Party' are the first of many groups filtering into the main stream this year (also watch out for 'Kaiser Chiefs' and 'The Bravery' in weeks to come). Touted as the next big thing (they came second in the BBC's 'Sound of 2005'), 'Bloc Party' have started the new year on fine form. Proof that hype gets you places; 'So Here We Are Now' (single number 3 from the album) rocketed into the UK top 5. 'Silent Alarm', their debut album, heralds a whole different sound to this single, but don't let it put you off. It is one of the mellow moments on an album that can only be described as quirky, jerky, funky, and pretty cool (this is where the comparisons with 'Franz' originate). Exploding on to your stereo with 'Like Eating Glass', 'Silent Alarm' grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you through a musical minefield of sex ('Banquet'), love ('This Modern Love'), deceit ('Luno') and quite bizarrely, the price of petrol ('The Price of Gasoline'). Personal highlights have to be the fantastically raucous and dark 'She Hears Voices' and 'Pioneers', and the brilliant 'Positive Tension', 'Luno' and 'Helicopter'.
If you can, get your hands on the limited edition DVD package, which includes live versions of four tracks. This gives you the opportunity to see what all these bans do best, and that is to bring their songs to life (you also get to see the band members in rather strange outfits, including a glowing red-nose, fairy wings, and two outfits rejected by the 'Village People'). This band will be huge, and like others before them, 'Silent Alarm' will gradually climb its way up the British music chart, rather than creating a sudden impact. Get there before everyone else. It's always good to be the one who bought the album before anyone else knew of them. 'Bloc Party' are here for the duration, join the ride.
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on 11 February 2005
I love British rock and follow the scene with great interest. I can say that Bloc Party has so far been the best new rock band to come out of the U.K. since Muse or Radiohead. And this is on the basis of just one album! But what a debut. After snagging an advance copy, I can also say that it's going to have to be something really spectacular that blows me away to keep me from calling this the best album of 2005.
The endless comparisons to Gang of Four and the Manics are not surprising. But it would be unfair to call Bloc Party just an imitation of those groups. They are not just another throwback to the early 80's or 90's. This is definitely a group of the 21st century. The albums haunting lyrics convey a world of loneliness, paranoia, boredom and an impending implosion of events-hence the album's title. And the music is incredible. Each song is just amazing and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Is it too early to call Bloc Party a great band? I dunno, time will tell, but given this sensational debut, they're well on their way. 10 out of 10.
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on 15 February 2005
Joy Division, Gang of Four, Cure. I want to mention those bands only to say that they do not really sound like any of them as much as I'm sure they're influenced by any/some of them. The main thing that captivates me about Bloc Party live and on CD is the urgency and excitement of the music. The quality of Kele's voice injects a sort of excitement and freshness into the music. It sounds like he really should be wailing and clapping his hands, but the songs require some discipline and on the slow ones he manages to change to a lower, softer, more dreamy tone. There are no wasted parts on the tracks, no boring outros or pointless middle eights, just beautiful bass riffs, pulsating rythyms and grating guitar stabs. The album is well paced, (though I would have liked tulips on the album) and kicks off with the high energy Like Eating Glass and frenetic drum beat song Helicopter. As much as I'm sure Bloc Party have been helped by music industry trends over the last (FF) year, we need to support them when the hype dies down (I know it's just picking up), because I hope they're more than 80's punk-funksters etc and are people that can make a few excellent albums. What is clear is that Bloc Party have worked hard to get where they are right now and deserve the success that is undoubtedly on the way. It is a good sign for contemporary pop music when we see a single like Here We Are performed on CD UK (i was looking out for Britney). Good Luck Bloc Party. Oh yes..Buy the album and tell all your friends to, it'll make you want to dance around the house.
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on 14 June 2005
yes, thats right. you try jogging to helicopter.
jogging aside, ignore all references to anything. just buy and listen if you like listening to pure, raw, energetic sound energy. Think of it as a bungy jump for your soul.
Emotive, addictive, pure beautiful moments of sadness, anger, love and lust, all sum up this unstoppably brilliant, fresh and inspired work. it certainly drives, questions and pushes some of the mediocre we listen to today.
Matt uses the drums as they should be used, filling gaps and minute cracks with audacious rhythms whilst Gordon throws interweaving bass at the drums, combining to create a powerful wall. Over this wall sit Kele and Russell, Kele with charismatic soul and power, the spokesman, leading them into battle, alongside Russell's often outspoken but melodic shrills of guitar work.
totally outstanding as a debut, perhaps not aimed at the mainstream, but arriving there with undisputed nievity, charm and above all, modesty.
verdict: beautifully amazing
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on 23 January 2005
Some of us had seen this coming. When Banquet first surfaced on the Internet in early 2004 it hinted at something slightly special. Recent single Helicopter confirmed it. Bloc Party are the first band of the download generation to truly harness the potential of the Internet, and build their reputation based on good old fashioned gigging and also on peoples' hard drives. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, album of the year 2005, Silent Alarm.
For the uninitiated Bloc Party are Kele, Russell, Graham and Matt. All hailing from East London they describe themselves as "an autonomous unit of un-extraordinary kids reared on pop culture between the years of 1976 and the present day". This is what makes Bloc Party so special. They're not into the rock star, drugged up, dressed down chic that so many of the London scene holds in such high regard, they were brought up on Prince not Gang of Four, and they even have a section for 'discourse' on their website. Bloc Party are like you and me.
But this is of course what makes Bloc Party so cool. No one will have to worry about Kele not turning up to a gig. Or if he does turn up will he be either 3 hours late or too off his face on skag to even speak let alone sing? On their recent tour with Razorlight they proved that professionalism is mightier than the ego by blowing Borrell off countless stages. Bloc Party are truly about 'the music'. Album opener 'Like Eating Glass' begins with a simple guitar note which shifts pitch and drops you right into the opening line of the song on the back of Matt's hammering drums. From there on in, the album hardly lets up for four songs while it pulls you head first through the rotor blades of recent single Helicopter, through the lyrical claustrophobic paranoia of Positive Tension (the fear and the yearning/the fear and the consumption/it's gonna eat you alive) and on to the almost hypnotic, future dance floor filler Banquet. Even when it does let up it's only momentarily until it plunges you straight back into She's Hearing Voices, the chanting centre piece of the album with its pulsating rhythm section and neurotic lyrics repeating 'red pill, blue pill' over and over. While the rest of the London scene have spent most of their time playing pointless 'gigs' on underground trains rather than concentrating on things called songs, Bloc Party have produced an album of outstanding depth and cohesion which appeals on so many levels.
Some have criticised the band for omitting early single Little Thoughts but it simply wouldn't fit sonically in the context of the other tracks on Silent Alarm. Kele's vocals range from shouty post-punk tirades to much more smooth soulful moments such as those on Blue Light, This Modern Love or latest single So Here We Are. It would be almost unfair to pick out highlights from Silent Alarm because it is all to such a high standard but you can certainly expect Luno, Banquet, and She's Hearing Voices to be filling dance floors in 2005 the way Franz did in 2004.
Silent Alarm mixes punk, funk, rock, indie, dance and almost any other genre you'd care to think of, all in the name of Bloc Party's ultimate plan, to be universal. To have "R&B kids, pop kids and people into electro coming to see us". It's taken 5 years of the new millennium for them to arrive but Bloc Party have their fingers on the pulse of the UK. They have the potential to become the genre crossing, race eradicating, trend-setters that the skinny white male, middle class world of indie music has needed for so long. 'Are you hoping for a miracle?' Kele asks on Helicopter. It's not a miracle we need in 2005 Kele; it's Bloc Party.
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on 18 January 2005
What can I say, one awesome album thats been constantly played in my cd player since december. All the songs are good and are different. Im defo going to order this to go with my Helicopter and Bloc party EP cds. There are some real Gems here Standout tracks for me are Like Eating Glass, Helicopter, Banquet, Shes Hearing Voices, Positive Tension, This mordern Love. I also love the very powerful Luno what a track this is.
Take mine the rest of the reviewers tips get this album.
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VINE VOICEon 13 February 2006
Very good album but be careful you don't mix this up with the other newer CD and DVD release of Silent Alarm. This version DOES NOT contain the 2 most recent singles (two of the strongest tracks on the album in my opinion) - Little Thoughts and Two More Years. Also, the bonus DVD DOES NOT include the 25 minute tour documentary, music videos and has one less live performance (although I think the ones on this edition are different to that of the other version). If you're thinking of buying this album make sure it's the most recent edition. To make matters even more confusing it looks like both versions have the same front cover so make sure you check the track and DVD listing before buying. This album has been re-released a good two or three times with something extra each time so let's hope the next Bloc Party release is a brand new album.
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