Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
Kele Okereke – Vocals, Guitar
Gordon Moakes – Bass
Russell Lissack – Guitar
Matt Tong – Drums
Bloc Party, Bloc Party, Bloc Party. If you’re at all aware of the British indie rock scene, you will know that this band is being talked about like no one else at the moment. NME worships the ground they walk on, every indie station in Britain is trying to trace how long they’ve been pushing the band for and they have even graduated into the mainstream press. Most bands would kill for this kind of publicity. Hailed as ‘the next big thing’ by more sources than I care to count, Bloc Party had caused so much of a stir just by EPs and singles that their entry into the UK album chart at #3 surprised almost no one.
Already our very own Alt/Indie forum is sick to death of Bloc Party threads, and yet the album was only released on Valentine’s Day.
The band’s progress is almost unstoppable now. Yes, they will be the next big thing unless something utterly bizarre happens; they’re already so far along that road it seems inevitable.
So we have rising Britrock stars, ‘the next Franz Ferdinand’ and NME darlings. It’s certainly not an instant seal of musical greatness, is it? Still, let’s give them a chance over the course of this review, as for their genre they’ve produced some might fine singles.
The album kicks off with one of them – Like Eating Glass
. Driving guitars, a spiky chorus and echoing lyrics make for a catchy yet atmospheric track that certainly gets the album off to a good start. Next we zoom on in to Helicopter
, which has all the qualities of the British indie rock scene these days crammed into 3:40. Melodic backing vocals, neat little guitar riffs and disjointed vocals abound here. Some strange noises at the beginning catch your attention on the third track – Positive Tension
, but it ends up following a reasonably similar pattern. All of three of these songs are well-written, catchy and nice to listen to, even if they are nothing extraordinarily different from what you’ve heard before.
Next we hit Banquet
, which is often touted as the best of the songs that were played before the launch of the album. You can see why, the riff alone makes a lot of people pay attention. Okereke’s vocals are wonderful here; he really begins to show that his voice is actually quite soulful.
Suddenly the tempo and mood drops down with Blue Light
, a gorgeous gem of a song that’s simple yet so effective. A definite grower, I like it more every time I listen to it.
Then we move into a really fantastic song – She’s Hearing Voices
. A wonderful drumbeat and a very interesting melody, it’s a pretty irresistible track even if Okereke’s usual crystal-clear lyrical delivery does descend into slurriness and muttering.
This Modern Love
and The Pioneers
draw you further into Bloc Party’s clutches as you find yourself forgetting about all the hype, all the expectation and all the predictions and just listening to the music. Then another great track comes in – The Price Of Gasoline
. More moody, atmospheric stuff with a great, slightly insane outburst sandwiched into the verses.
Then we have So Here We Are
. A magnificent indie ballad, it swoops and soars from guitars and beautiful vocals into your ears. A rippling riff and subdued vocals make up the majority of the song, which is all perfectly nice to listen to until suddenly Okereke breaks out with a euphoric, triumphant ‘I figured it out!’ that takes the song onto a whole new level. It’s not very surprising this has been their most successful single to date.
After that comes Luno
, which was weaker but still shows quite a good ear on the band’s part for soundscapes. Plans
picks up the pace again with a good rhythm section going. We then reach the last song on the album, Compliments
. Yet again, more great atmosphere is created and the vocals only really appear as a little decoration in the background. That’s possibly a little too drastic here, but when the guitar comes in it pulls the track up considerably. This certainly isn’t the type of track you’d expect to find here.
So, the short answer to the question that a lot of people are asking lately is yes, the Bloc Party album is good, and does fit with the expectations people had of it. No, it’s not revolutionary, but it’s a fine piece of work nonetheless and some of it is very beautiful.
Like Eating Glass
She’s Hearing Voices
So Here We Are