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A Weekend in the City
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 18 June 2016
Brought this to replace my old copy of this album due to it now being unplayable. Only recieved a 4 star rating due to the song 'Flux' missing!
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on 1 March 2007
Silent Alarm for me was the best album of 2005, it had everything you could want from an up & coming british band and i thought these guys were legends in the making, effortlessly combining subtle, political and humurous lyrics with banging drum beats, bass lines & thrashing guitar riffs Bloc Party became my favourite band for a long time, that is until i heard there latest effort, all i can say is what happened?

Almost every song has the same repetitive structure: slow melodical intro with kele whispering garbage about something i couldn't care less about followed by an anti climax of a riff that hardly comes close to what we've come to expect, all topped by lyrics (one of bloc party's fortes from silent alarm) that have lost there subtly and become so self-righteous they're just plain annoying.

There's nothing wrong with a slow song here and there, it was used to perfection on the previous album (so here we are, this modern love) something gentle to calm the pace after a stretch of 4 or 5 rip roaring tracks gave them a different slant and an excellent feather in their cap, but to say they overkilled this style on this album is an understatement.

I don't know why bands feel they have to change, they might want to appeal to a new target audience but in doing so they alienate the people who brought them into the mainstream in the first place, i loved the old bloc party (i can't believe i'm saying 'old' bloc party so soon after their breakthrough) they were so fresh, now they're just another band. Maybe i'm being harsh, there are some nice little tunes on the album, it just falls so far short of what i expected, i think in bloc party we have four guys who are the most talented musicians we've seen in this country for a long time, let's just hope they get the picture and start doing the music we love to hear from them, come on Bloc Party, sort it out!
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on 21 March 2007
It's taken me a while to get into Bloc Party. I first encountered them at Leeds festival - and I wasn't impressed. They appeared to me to be just another wannabe indie-cool art band whose creative talent had been channelled into their dress sense instead of their music. However, after hearing some tracks from their debut album, Silent Alarm, and finally purchasing the album for myself some months ago, I have been forced slowly to admit that I was wrong. That album combined some infectuous motifs with some very effective musical arrangemnts that are by turns easy on the ears and great fun to dance to, coupled with some surprisingly clever lyrics (surprising because they're difficult to make out without the sleeve-notes).

This follow-up album is something entirely different - and so much the better for it. It seems the band have completely reinvented themselves and come up with something entirely unexpected, but just as good, if not better than their debut album.

The opening track has an incredibly inventive refrain (just try singing the line `Oh how long our parents they suffered for nothing' - it never does what you expect it to) and `Hunting for Witches', which follows it, similarly builds on its air of lurking menace and jaunty discontent (albeit with lyrics that are perhaps a tad unsubtle). The next two songs are linked, using the rythmic similarities between the verses of `The Prayer' and `Waiting for the 7.18' to generate a sense of alienation that links the situations of the two songs: one is constantly defeated, constantly looking for something more to life, whether `waiting for the 7.18' or `standing on the packed dancefloor'. `On' continues this theme, with a melancholic evocation of the lure of cocaine, at once leading to great nights out, but also reminding us that `when it runs out, we're chasing something we'll never catch'. `Uniform' takes up the theme of the difficulty of rebellion and true expression in the modern age, building from a slow, moody verse to a screaming chorus of frustration.

`Where is Home', influenced by recent incidents of hate crime, especially the Stephen Lawrence trial is genuinely uncomfortable to listen to. Not since the Manic Street Preacher's `The Holy Bible' has such vitriol against social injustice (`I want to stamp on the face of every young policeman, to break the fingers of every old judge') rung so true.

In the final section of the album, the songs become more reflective, with the beautiful `Kreuzberg', in which the singer ponders of the illusion of love obtained in numerous `strangers' bedrooms' before deciding that `at twenty-five, something must change'. The song then ends on a haunting chorus dealing with the discontentment in love that we have all surely felt at one point or another, sung over a wonderful guitar riff - a riff which is echoed in `Saturday', whose beautifully optimistic chorus is the very reverse of `Kreuzberg', suggesting that when true love does come, not only is it wonderful, but touchingly ordinary (`I love you in the morning when you're still hungover'). I think `forget about those melting ice caps, we're doing the best with what we've got' must be one of my favourite lines from any song ever.

Sandwiched between these two tracks is the album's high point, `I Still Remember', in which the singer recalls an unrequited love from his school days, regretting that he hadn't made his feelings known at the time. It's a cliched concept made new here by the simplicity of the lyrics - `Every park bench screams your name, I kept your tie' - which tells you, at once, both nothing at all and everything you need to know.

Ending the album on a thoroughly depressing note is SRXT, which appears to be about a suicide - `Tell my mother I'm sorry and I loved her'. After the optimisim of the preceding two tracks it brings you down to earth with a bang, forcibly reminding you that though life can be wonderful, the uncomfortable note of the first seven tracks never completely goes away.

So all in all a beautiful, profound and moving album, with something we can all relate to. Different from `Silent Alarm' it may well be, but all that means is that its virtues are different too. Extraordinary stuff.
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on 11 February 2007
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?
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on 18 September 2007
the only problem with this album is that when i listened to it for the first time i knew no-one would get it, and it seems that my fears were sadly confirmed. people want another silent alarm and it was never going to come. there was only one way after the excellent (but limited) silent alarm, and that was up (or down depending on how you look at it). i mean that they were only going to start taking the radiohead route and start making albums that (instead of being instantly likeable and thus easy to get bored of) took a few listens before you start liking every song, that is to say not just 'the prayer' and 'hunting for witches'. for example, when i first got this album I only listened to the instantly likeable 'song for clay' 'hunting for witches and 'the prayer'....but. eventually i thought "hmmm...im not quite getting my money's worth here, maybe i should force myself to listen to the songs of which i didnt quite know what to think at first". i have to say, upon listening to the sublime 'SRXT' and 'Kreuzberg' (two songs that are in roughly the same vien) i knew this would be one of my favourite albums to come out in a long time. the lyrics, while people may consider face-value and simplistic, are a welcome change after the pointless archaic ramblings of silent alarm. i defy anyone to tell me what the hell 'like eating glass' is about for example.
here is a review of each song in order because thats the sort of review i like.
Song for Clay (Disappear Here): Amazing, this song is so well constructed its unbelievable, the main riff is menacing and jagged and the breakdown in the middle (east london is a vampire) sends shivers down my spine every time.
Hunting for Witches: Very simplistic in all respects, the lyrics are somewhat clumsy and blatant and the chords are the age old sort that every band uses at some point...but effective nonetheless. the songs main good qualities are its jerky rhythms and top-notch production. well constructed and effective despite its simplicity. could have come quite happily from silent alarm
Waiting for the 7:18: this song is very sweet and close to home. the drum machine is very well used and the nostalgic chorus (just give me moments, not hours or days) is very nice. this is one of those instantly likeable songs that can get a bit boring after repeated listens but always worth a listen in certain moods
The Prayer: im actually very bored of this song. its a great song but i know if i bother reviewing it it will only come out negative so i wont bother (everyone knows it anyway!).
Uniform: this song is possibly the best song on the album, magnificently structured, angular and the lyrics are anthemic for a teenager like myself as they deal with issues that everyone's constantly griping about. how youth culture is consumed by people trying to look and act different and eventually everyone looks and acts the same. the backing vocals are inspired, its almost like a modern day bohemian rhapsody. the intro is beautiful as well.
On: this one definately takes a few listens to like. but is very catchy in the end. the instrumentation is a little wierd but the vocals are very distinctive and the quirky time signitures create interest. the lyrics arent great in places but it doesnt really matter. its one of those songs where the lyrics are pretty inconsequencial, they're just there because they have to.
Where is Home?: another album highlight, absolutely incredible. takes a few listens but it is worth it. you can hear the anger (and hopelessness) in kele's voice when he sings this and the intro is positively chilling. one of the best anti-racism songs ive ever heard. the lyrics are the best on the album.
Kreuzberg: this song is a beautiful, poignant song about kele's feelings of confusion and frustration exploring his sexuality (after sex, the bitter taste, been fooled again, the search continues). the music sounds quite ironically victorious.
I Still Remember: this song is quite touching lyrically. when i read the lyrics i expected a ballad but its more of a sort of radio-friendly pop song. not a home run but still quite good. the melodies are satisfying but it all gets a bit tedious after a while. somewhat disappointing but no album is perfect, especially not nowadays.
Sunday: i mostly skip this song, it never really grabbed me even after repeated listens. i thought the album might have become a bit inconsistent at this point but there was one very nice surprise to come...
SRXT: this song is absolutely breathtaking, i have not heard a better song in a long time. i allowed myself a little chuckle when i read one review that seemed to think it was about suicide. i'll admit to the casual listener some lyrics might suggest that but if you actually read the lyrics it is undoubtably about kele's struggle with people who wont accept his sexuality, even perhaps his own mother (tell my mother i am sorry and i loved her). but lines like 'i called up eugene, told him i was drowning' 'they say its not becoming for a boy my age' and 'being a man made me coarse when i wanted to be delicate' should seal anyones decision that it is not ABOUT suicide. i should think that lyrics about suicide are probably below lyricists like kele, i mean face it, no-one who is serious about music will not write stupid songs about killing themselves like papa roach or hawthorne heights or other ridiculous bands like that. i have to say that the honesty of this song brings me close to tears. the loud mid-section is positively epic and the final lines are so touching anyone with any sort of heart should be affected by this song.
anyway, if i were to compare this album to silent alarm (which, in its own right, is an amazing album) i would say that this album is like a red wine or a single malt whiskey, an aquired taste. silent alarm is more like shandy or lambrini, asthetically pleasing to start but drink too much too often and you will grow bored of the taste and want to go out and seek something a bit more interesting.
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on 24 February 2007
A really bad attempt at an image change, Bloc Party shot to fame with their first album which has some great tracks, from Helicopter, Pioneer and Banquet, it really is an out stabnding piece of work for a first album. For this to be so bad, so eariler on in the career of this band, its a real dissapointment.

The album winges and whines through all its tracks, and boasts of a poorly planned message that just comes off as sounding selfimport. Each song goes on and on, with unispiered lyrics about life in the UK, and just how depressing and boring it really is, oh boo hoo. ALL(!) the tracks are slow incomparrision to the bands former work, and all of them are relentlessly boring, the words 'Oh my God will you STOP moaning!' spring to mind. If they really feel so strongly about the world they live in they might want to change it some other way that writting bad music, because at the end of the day they're just cashing in on other insipid people who feel the same and are just as lazy.

On top of the bands truly aweful new sound (its so ear bleedingly bad I can't satnd to hear it), having read interviews with the band it seems they enjoy looking down on other successful artists saying that "other bands arn't political enougth" ... Maybe they should concentrate on their own band and stop being so 'political' as it stands in the way of something intresting and new. personally i lister to music for escapisum, not to be told how I must be feeling, esspecailly when I don't even agree.

The lyrics are preachy and insipid, the guitar riffs are unintresting or at best taken off the first album with a few chored changes and the way the band promote themselves is equally egotistic and anoying.

BAD(full stop)
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on 7 April 2007
Thanks to the fine institution that is the 'Later... with Jools Holland' homepage, I can tell you that the first time I ever heard Bloc Party was on Friday 19th November 2004. I must admit I was not greatly impressed with them (and I don't even remember Interpol appearing, that's awfull) - I was probably more enthralled with Keane. Bloody Keane. All I can say is, oh how times have changed; whilst there's nothing Keane could do to grab my attention shy of releasing an album of AC/DC covers, my love of Bloc Party is now boarding on the near-obsessional. But then I think that's the sort of devotion that the band inspires, because they're a passionate group who want to make interesting and important music.

In it's subject matter, 'The Prayer' is classic out-on-the-town fare, however it's Bloc Party's skill with music and Kele's with lyrics that help them avoid all the indie clichés. The opening vocal riff and thumping drums recall Dizzee Rascal more than anything seen in skinny jeans, and lyrics such as "Lord give me grace and dancing feet / And the power to impress" have a tender vulnerability to them not heard in the lad-rock of Kasabian and The Twang.

"East London is a vampire / It sucks the joy right out of me" Kele wails towards the end of dramatic opener 'Song For Clay (Disappear Here)' and it's this sentiment that informs most of 'A Weekend In The City'; a man looking around himslef, seeing fads and frutility and dreaming of something more. 'Uniform' is an attack on the London scenesters Kele so quickly tires of; "...All the young people looked the same / Wearing their masks of indiference / Commerse dressed up as rebellion", while 'Where Is Home?' is Kele as a second generation Nigerian immigrant contemplating his posision in society ("In every headline we are reminded this is no home for us") and expressing his anger at the unfairness of it all ("I want to stamp on the face of every young policeman / Break the fingers of every old judge").

Fans of 'Silent Alarm' will quickly notice a change in tone for Bloc Party with this album, a change I think that brings with it greater heart and emotion. The most lyrically candid moment is certainly 'I Still Remember', as Kele tackles sexuality for the first time. The tender image of two schoolboys conveyed in the line "We left our trousers by the canal / And our fingers they almost touched", followed by the empassioned cry "You should have asked me for it / I would have been brave" are refreshingly far removed from the high-camp, media friendly image of the 'ambiguous' Mika and the openly gay Scissor Sisters, though Kele doesn't let his guard down for long. The angular post-punk riffs and driving rhythms of their debut are still in place (the glorious 'Hunting For Witches' especially) however someone's definitely developed an electro fetish, as keyboards and drum loops are added to the Bloc Party sound. It all makes for a richer, more epic sounding album that sees Bloc Party growing musically and emotionally as a band. They have something about them this group and I could see them becoming one of the UK's, and the world's, most important bands. The next Radiohead? I want to kick muself just for saying it, but it might just be true.

(Just a word about this CD/DVD edition - the DVD contains the videos for 'The Prayer' and 'I Still Remember', both of which I think are rather bland affairs that I've only watched once, but are quite a nice inclusion. The 'making-of' documentary is similarly uneventful and made incredibly frustrating by the absense of any proper interviews. The most we hear from Kele is Gordon asking him about his favourite guitar for about two minutes. The majority of the film consists of entire songs from the album soundtracking shots of Bloc Party racing toy tricyles, sat on sofas reading magazines or at the desk twiddling dials. At one point we see an old amplifier being hurled off the roof of the studio and the the ensuing destruction recorded, which was nice, but I have no idea why they did it or where it was used. It's all interesting to see and provides a small insight into their world, but it's not hugey entertaining, unlike the DVD that accompanied Muse's 'Absolution' album, that was both entertaining and informative. As somewhat of a compleatest however I would still recommend this version. The red slip case is quite pretty anyway.)
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on 12 February 2007
Before I start to review this outstanding album, I wish to make it clear that AWITC is a different album completely.

'Song For Clay (Disappear Here)' is the opener, and it is one of the best tracks BP have written. It starts quietly, and some catchy drum loops come in, with some guitaring reminiscent of U2. That might possibly be Garrett 'Jacknife' Lee's influence after he worked with U2 on their previous album. It's an impeccable start to an impeccable album. The sound is unmistakeably Bloc Party but with a slight twist, and a rockier edge. 10/10.

'Hunting For Witches', track two, is a likely release, with its catchy riff and drum loops. The lyrics are topical on recent events, reflecting on the 7/7 London bombings. The sound is a cleaner, more refined one than on 'Silent Alarm', but that is only because Lee has maybe emphasised more of a guitar influence than an electronic one seen on their debut. 10/10.

Track three, 'Waiting For The 7:18', is a slower one, but one thing BP have developed on this album is more of an anthemic sound. Kele Okereke's lyrics are better than ever, highly intelligent songwriting. The drumming is as good as ever, and one significant improvement over 'Silent Alarm' is the backing vocals. Brilliant music. 10/10.

Track four is the first release off this album, called 'The Prayer'. It really does start in an interesting fashion. The drums/claps are unorthodox but catchy, and the backing vocals are imposing yet unassuming. The chorus will be a future classic. Fact. 'Tonight make me unstoppable, and I will try, I will slice, I will dazzle, I will outshine them all.' Okereke sings confidently. 10/10.

Track five, 'Uniform', is BP's longest song to date, but more importantly, it's their best. By a country mile. Lyrically it's impeccable. Musically, it's magical. There are three parts to this song. There's a relatively quiet first part, which opens up into an up-tempo part and it finishes by slowing down. Needless to say, the second part is the best of them. A catchy drum loop, combined with a punchy bass line and a great guitar bit to follow. Brilliant. 10/10.

Track six, 'On', is a slower track. 'You make my tongue loose' is the standout line that Okereke sings here. Of course, there is more to this song than that. But that stands out, more than anything. Musically, this track is first-rate. Anthemic, and a definite crowd pleaser in festivals and gigs. More than anything, this track demonstrates Okereke's ability as a songwriter. 9/10.

Track seven, 'Where Is Home?' is a track about Okereke's upbringing and his personal battle against racism. Thoughtful lyrics, and that's what this song is about more than anything else. Musically, it is probably the weakest track, but lyrically, it stands head and shoulders above all the others. Brilliant. 9/10.

Track eight, 'Kreuzberg', is another long song. It's a beautiful track, probably the most pleasant on the ear on the whole album. The guitaring is excellent, and it's the most prominent U2 influence on the whole of the album, in all honesty. Anthemic, epic, glorious. A very close second best on this album. A definite 10/10.

Track nine, 'I Still Remember', is the band's second release off this album. Excellent lyrics. Excellent music. More than likely a reminiscing of Okereke's childhood memories. The guitars create a bigger sound (Lee's influence, I don't know, but quite possibly), and it's a good thing. Glorious. 10/10.

Track ten, 'Sunday', quite possibly, has some of the best lyrics on the album. 'I love you in the morning, when you're still hungover'.Pure genius. However, the song is equally as good. The drums are ready to be accompanied by a big sound. What they get are some keys, and some guitars to follow. A mature sound, a clever sound. Apart from that, it's quite a dreamy, hazy track. Perfect placement on the album, putting it as the penultimate track. 9/10.

Track eleven, and the final track, 'SRXT', is a slow-burner. Although unsure what 'SRXT' exactly stands for, it makes no difference as it is a top tune. It seems to be some sort of lullaby while listening to the lyrics. The last two lines are touching: 'Tell my mother I am sorry and I loved her'. A lovely track, and merits 9/10.

So, this album is no 'Silent Alarm'. It's completely different, and for those expecting 'Silent Alarm II', you will be disappointed. This is still Bloc Party but on a bigger and a better scale. Jacknife Lee has helped transform their direction into an anthemic combination of riffs and urban drum loops, combined with strings. The vocals are excellent and the songwriting is brilliant- it grabs your heart and pulls you towards its feelings. This is an essential album, not just of 2007, but it's an album you need in your life. 'Silent Alarm' set the standards high. 'A Weekend In The City' has just smashed them. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2007

A Weekend In The City is Bloc Party's long awaited and long overdue follow-up to Silent Alarm. It features 11 brand new tracks, including the current top 5 single "The Prayer". I have been looking forward to this album for quite some time but was put off slightly by the single, which I don't particularly like. Thankfully, the rest of the album is better than that one song suggests and includes a plethora of decent tracks.

Highlights include:

"Hunting For Witches" - a rather fitting title for the song because the main melody is somewhat haunting. This is perhaps the rockiest track on the album

"Uniform" - one of the longest tracks on the album at a little under 6 minutes. The opening 2 minutes are mellow but then suddenly the song increases in tempo courtesy of a bass line that's introduced and gradually develops into a glorious ending with decent guitar solo

"Kreuzberg" - a mellow track that is a delight to listen to and very emotive

"I Still Remember" - this will presumably be the second single because a music video has already been made, as shown on the bonus DVD (which I shall mention in a minute). I can fully understand why this would be released as a single because it's an infectious song and definitely one of the strongest on the album. It's a mid tempo track with some pop sensibilities about it

The album does feel quite morbid in places (especially the final track which is pretty depressing) but it's enthralling and insightful. It feels a lot more personal this time round and I get the impression Kele is singing about real-life experiences in most of the songs. The production values have improved from the previous album making it feel different to their debut. This is still recognisably Bloc Party in the style of music on offer but the edgy stripped-down sound that worked so well on the debut is less apparent on this release. That's not to say it makes this one weaker because I think on the whole this album is possibly more accessible.

There are currently two versions of A Weekend In The City on release. The standard no-frills version and also a limited 2 disc version with bonus DVD (which can be differentiated by the red case is comes in). The bonus DVD includes a behind the scenes look at the making of the album and two music videos.

On the bonus DVD:

Making of the album - a 20 minute behind the scenes feature, filmed during the recording process in summer 2006. It's not very insightful and hardly reveals anything about the making of the album, as the title would suggest. I've seen it once and don't think I will ever feel compelled to view it again. Most of the film features a montage of clips with their album tracks playing over the top but the camera angles and direction are so poor that it's hardly worth watching

Music videos - there are two music videos on offer, "The Prayer" and "I Still Remember". The latter is a very impressive video to a very impressive song and certainly worth watching. However, the video for "The Prayer", much like the song, is pretty forgettable


Overall, A Weekend In The City is an impressive sophomore release for Bloc Party and I feel their fan base will continue to grow. Expect this album to enter the charts highly (early indications strongly suggest number 2) and deservedly so. How does it compare to the debut album? It's fairly similar in quality but I'm not sure if there are as many layers to explore in this album - I think there is less variation on the whole. So all in all, probably not quite as strong as their debut (but only marginally so), yet still a very good album and comes highly recommended to new and existing Bloc Party fans. I don't think too many people will be disappointed.
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on 18 January 2007
Britpop isn't going down without fighting. The most important proprieters of the scene are still with us in various guises; Jarvis is now on his lonesome, Damon Albarn has succesfully fronted two (looking likely to be three) bands in the last 5 years, and Oasis are, well, still Oasis. Add to that their detractors who've seen some glamour of late: Kasabian, the heir to the throne of a barroom Englishness that's screaming 'Get involved' every half an hour it spends swilling and throwing a plastic cup of warm Carling-

'I am trying to be heroic in an age of modernity'

Then there's the Kaiser Chiefs who stride on in the footsteps of 'The Great Escape'-era Blur, which has its appeal to many

'I am trying to be heroic as all around me history sings'

And then you have the MOR Virgin Radio Dad Rock of Razorlight and Snow Patrol that inspires nothing and benefits from the public's comfort zone

'So I enjoy, and I devour, flesh and wine and luxury'

But the fact is there's still a market for British youth punk and disenchantment

'But in my heart, I am lukewarm'

A sense of isolation that doesn't mean emo pop-punk

'Nothing ever really touches me'

And it's a market utterly dominated by Bloc Party's 'A Weekend in the City'. It's an album which - for all intents and purposes - has a pretty narrow target audience; to fully appreciate it you'd have to be living in London. Its kindred spirit is probably Pulp's 'This Is Hardcore', an album designed for late night listening, preferably through headphones: early on it had been criticised for its lack of upbeat numbers, but if anything it's due to an awkward track sequencing. The opening three tracks, however, are Bloc Party at their undisputed best: Kele's spoken word introduction to 'Song for Clay (Disappear Here)' is a telling beginning of an album that's very much driven by its lyrics, a city-savvy disection of modern life. The song breaks out of its building holding pattern for Kele to spout out 'East London is a vampire/ it sucks the joy right out of me' as though it were a slogan pasted across a Barking train. It's followed by 'Hunting for Witches', the closest Bloc Party get on the album to their former sound, the title a metaphor for the media's scapegoating, with glitchy backing vocals and bookended by repeated radio static, and it sounds far more structured on record than it has previously in a live setting. The last of the three, Waiting for the 7.18, provides the most resonant summation of life for any student in the capital, driving in its ambience: 'Waiting for the 7.18/ January is endless/ Weary-eyed and forlorn/ The northern line's the loudest' Kele mumbles in perfect clarity.

From here on in, A Weekend in the City retains its lyrical prowess but its songs verge on considerably less exciting for at least half of it, but such is to be expected after such a thrilling initial sequence. One, 'Where is Home?' is almost unbearably dull, where Kele's vocals genuinely grate. It almost seems like the band's gone for a 'Worlds Apart' style crash, but it's the nadir of the record, and it's a record that takes considerable time to appreciate in its entireity. It genuinely demands evening listening through headphones, even if just for the added barely audible London Underground station announcement at the beginning of 'SRXT'. It's also on earphones that tracks like 'On' and 'Kreuzberg' become more than just forgettable filler before the penultimate pair of 'I Still Remember' and 'Sunday' which - just like This is Hardcore - provide an uplifting finale, even if they aren't as inventive as the first three tracks, the former teetering on the edge of sentimentality and the latter best describing the album's title, a wiser 'This Modern Love' applying an organ against Matt Tong's drumming. It's a charming story that seethes realism, even with the pre-soaring riff cheesiness of 'Our love is louder than words'. The London Underground really is the pulse than runs through 'A Weekend in the City', an album about life both in transit and stuck in a rut, ending with a suicide as though it were the only means of escaping the drag that is life:

If you want to know what makes me sad

Well it's hope, endurance and faith

A battle that lasts a lifetime

A fight that never ends

And then a glorious orchestral chant kicks in, and it's as if all the mundanities of the album and modern life are explained and released in one fell swoop.

Bloc Party are the future of English music as the history books would like to write it. They are the best young band in Britain today with songwriting that very rarely misses its targets.
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