Atmospheric...the druggy escapism of A Weekend In The City
Karen F. Nath | A musical universe | 05/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now, I loved Silent Alarm as much as anybody else. Bloc Party became one of my very favorite new bands after listening to that album. The sparse, spiky guitars, persistent drumming, and melodic vocals made for a brilliant album that hearkened back to the punk and post-punk movements of the 70s and 80s. A Weekend In The City, Bloc Party's follow-up, is a very different animal altogether. The guitar sound is roughly the same, but the vocals have a softer, almost blurry quality to them, the drums might as well have been drum machines (but they are still amazing), and the song content is darker and more melancholy. If Silent Alarm was the Saturday night out on the city, A Weekend In The City is the hang over of the Sunday morning...blurry, atmospheric, abashed, and slightly angry. And it works very well.
"Song For Clay" starts out the album with a simple vocal and guitar melody that turns into pounding drums and clashing guitars, but it's not quite as explosive as the rockers on Silent Alarm, it still sounds vulnerable. "Hunting For Witches" is a description of how the media has used "fear to keep us all in place", employing electronic-sounding guitars to fill as a symbol of modern paranoia, truly a standout track. "Waiting For the 7.18" is one of my personal favorites, with a somber melody dissolving into blissful noise pop behind the refrain "Let's drive to Brighton on the weekend." "The Prayer" is a slightly weird track, with synth and drums backing the harsh, abrasive verse, and a sweet little guitar melody serving as the backdrop for a chorus that contrasts well with the verse. "Uniform" is a song about the conformity of teens, with soft guitar becoming a riveting guitar solo. "On" provides a drug ballad, with gorgeous, melancholic lyrics such as "Drunken 'I love you's at the top of the world...and when it runs out, we buy more, a flatness so bleak, I've been bitten by a vampire". "Where Is Home?" is similar to "Prayer" in song structure, and is one of the weaker tracks on the LP. It is quite possibly the angriest song on A Weekend In The City, but instead of angsty lyrics, it is a resigned anger about racial injustice. "Kreuzberg" is an underrated song detailing the love the narrator wishes he could find after so many one-night stands. It is a perfect example of the vulnerability that wasn't present on their previous effort. "I Still Remember" is a radio-friendly single concerning an attraction between two schoolboys. "Sunday" is a very atmospheric song that lifts off the ground on its fragile melody. "SRXT" is a perfect closer to the album, a sad ballad about suicide.
One thing I mentioned a lot in the review was the word "melody", and it is appropriate, as the melody is pushed to the forefront more so than in Silent Alarm. Kele Okereke's lyrics serve perfectly to describe a vulnerable, confused young man in the middle of a city with nowhere to turn, surrounded by hypocrisy, corruption, and depression. It's a much darker album, lyrically, but it's a beautiful darkness, with the lyrics serving as a perfect counterpoint to the musicality of the album. There have been a lot of negative reviews for this album, but personally, I feel it is just as strong as Silent Alarm, but it needs a lot more time to grow on you. But what really makes it so appealing is that Bloc Party did not give us more of the same, but took their music in a new and beautiful direction. I can't wait to hear what comes next."