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Bloc Party “A Weekend in the City” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

With the release of A Weekend in the City London’s Bloc Party has tried to council its fans with the attempt of again finding a solid voice, all the while attempting to atain its remarkable critical acclaim. And somewhere in there lies the challenge of explaining the life of a group of twenty somethings (exception: Gordon Moakes) in a way that distains reality without neglecting the band’s artistic focus. A focus which has driven the group to its current state of popularity; hard for any group to do, let alone one that has so many people banking on its failure.

Instinctly one looks for a comparison to Silent Alarm, the group’s 2005 debut album which changed the way many view modern indie rock as a whole. However few initially found similarities between the two and the initial feedback leaned towards being negative; most identifying the album as quite different, too different for many. The similarities are scarcer than most anticipated, both musically and lyrically, and while the first week of the album’s public consumption continued the trend of questionable feedback continued rolling in. The all consuming review-pillar MetaCritic rates the album a mere 66/100, placing it somewhere in the midst of Gwen Stefani’s questionable Sweet Escape and The Shins‘ indie-gone-mainstream Wincing the Night Away. Some overwhelming voices influencing that rating criticize A Weekend in the City as being too different, not being what it should have been…some even strangely remarking on how strangely emo it feels (though I don’t agree with that particular sentiment at all) – it’s just not the Bloc Party album that everyone apparently wanted to hear.

Often when figuring into the equation what it is people look for the within a given piece of music the lyrical content can often be overlooked. In the case of A Weekend in the City many must be avoiding singer Kele Okereke’s words which better identify a youth generation than most in recent memory. A youth generation that is now realizing itself to no longer be adolescent, but rather to be of adult orientation and through the self examination realizes, too, that it has grown into an emotional void from which it needs to find shelter.

The album largely deals with the idea of relationships and the associated variables surrounding them, but one of the first striking tracks that steps out of that idea is “Hunting For Witches;” a song that deals largely with the middle class’s realization of terrorist misinformation. But the human emotion can largely attribute its state to the surrounding clashes of daily life, and in the last five years there has been no greater clash than that between the individual, its government and the proposed enemy. Indeed when we are set for a modern day witch hunt, we begin lacking confidence and security within our communities and are eventually driven to a state of anxiety that doesn’t allow the level of comfort which was once enjoyed without the term luxury being associated with it. But as with many Okereke’s age, it becomes necessity to not only make peace with one’s inner conflicting dialogue, but to make peace with those around you and the relationships you all share – it is this set of relationships which covers much of A Weekend in the City.

What best identifies both what it is that Okereke has gone through since Silent Alarm and his current frustrations can best be summed up through “Waiting for the 718″ and “Kreuzberg.” Through the songs he stresses two points, one being that he wished his future to be a series of moments rather than a simply time passing by, and the second being a feeling of removal from mental stagnation. “Waiting for the 718″ rides the line “Just give me moments, not hours or days” which is then reflected by “Kreuzberg”s “I have decided at twenty-five something must change.” Through the course of writing and recording Okereke has taken a budding thought, put it into place and realized it by making an attempt for meaning within the moments of his life as the album was released with the hope that it would begin a series of meaningful moments for him and his band mates.

“SRXT” almost redefines the ongoing search for beauty and self understanding that much of the album seeks. It doesn’t give up necessarily, but it voices its frustration and need for a break from it all. This may very well be a break from disgusted teenagers who now find themselves uprising against the band’s ever-changing music or comfortable critics who feel the need to question the authenticity of the lyrics. A Weekend in the City is far from what many originally anticipated and even further from what many had hoped for, but it clearly defines the confusion that young love, hope and sadness bring. This voice will never be entirely perfect or clear but given that stance, the recording in itself couldn’t have been more complete.