Review Summary: Silent Alarm is a great album that shows a band that has massive amounts of potential but can’t quite realize it.
We all know about Bloc Party. Kele Okereke and co. burst onto the already vibrant British indie scene seemingly out of nowhere (a story shared by many of their contemporaries). After the success of Franz Ferdinand, a precedent was set for another mob of bands to share their interpretations of their favourite bands. Along with bands like The Futureheads, Bloc Party were among the first to make a splash in North America. Their first full-length “Silent Alarm” released in 2005 was a smash hit much stemming from the success of singles like “Helicopter” and “Banquet”. But was there validity to their new found success? “Silent Alarm” all in all proved that the success was deserved. The band’s unique blend of influences garnered the respect of indie fans all across the world. The band’s sound is based off the simple ability to mix good song writing and catchy guitar hooks, which is where the band excels. Kele Okereke’s unconventional vocal delivery is something fresh and helps punctuate the music’s more alive and energetic sound. Which helps distinguish the band in there saturated scene. But what makes them so appealing in a lot of ways is there ability to realize their influences of art-punk and balance that with the catchiness of their contemporaries.
While they haven’t reached the stadium sized in sound as those bands (yet), Bloc Party instead make their niche by making its intentions known “Positive Tension” when Kele Okereke sings “Something glorious is about to happen/ A reckoning”.
One thing the listener realizes when they first listen to Bloc Party is that the band is quite talented. This is apparent quickly in the anthemic opener “Like Eating Glass” and more prominently on the stunning “Helicopter”, which feature rapid intertwined guitar lines shared by Kele Okereke and guitarist Russell Lissack. There are songs ranging from stunning ballads and rhythmically catchy songs which all work well with the big and layered production. The terrific single “Banquet” and the aforementioned “Like Eating Glass” put Bloc Party’s emotions into energetic song-writing which serves to be among Silent Alarm’s finest moments. Then there are the gorgeous ballads which amplify Bloc Party’s earnestness even further. Songs like “Blue Light”, “This Modern Love” and hit single “So Here We Are” show that Bloc Party has the ability to equate the power of their energetic songs into their more soft offerings.
As expressed by the album title, “Silent Alarm” is an overtly political album. The dangerousness of taking a step into politics is a hefty and dangerous one and Bloc Party marginally pull it off. “Price of Gas” is well intentioned and is fun, the political undertones are not too subtle and not too over-the-top in execution which is what makes them effective. Bloc Party aren’t going to shove these issues down people’s throats, but if the listener chooses to look into the more political topics then it only adds a new realm to the experience. But this philosophy backfires on songs like “Pioneers” and “Helicopter” where the subtlety of the lyrics leave the listener wanting more.
Despite this, “Silent Alarm” can become quite the bore. While the band might be fun, there isn’t much to them that separate themselves from other bands in their scene, which is what makes “Silent Alarm” so frustrating in the end. There is obviously a boatload of potential in the band and they can’t seem to realize it completely and stick to the safe side too often and seem afraid to expand on their more memorable moments. The disc also has a lack of replay ability and quickly turns into a pretty vague experience at times. Kele Okereke’s yelpy vocals are grading on the ears at times and don’t have much in the way of melody to help the softer moments shine even further. Silent Alarm is a great album that shows a band that has massive amounts of potential but can’t quite realize it.