Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
Reviewed by Andreas on 7th February 2007
Reinvention is an idea that I'm sure must have appeared in most musicians' heads. The difficulty of bringing something new to, well, any genre including guitars and drums is well documented on all those shit second albums you've got stashed away at the back of the cupboard. It's quite likely that Bloc Party thought about reinvention before committing "Weekend in the City" to tape and putting the thing on the shelves. At times they succeed too.
"East London is a VAMPIRE!!!" hollers Kele Okereke near the end of "Disappear Here (Song for Clay)" which opens the album. There's no need to guess what the album's about, revolving around the alienation and the "down-troddenness" the average city dweller feels, along with some political commentary and love songs thrown into the mix. "Waiting for the 7.18" mourns lost childhoods and all the things you ever wanted to be, whilst "Uniform" is rebellious teenagers kicking a punky guitar riff about. "Hunting For Witches" is Bloc Party as we already know them, with a steady beat and the accompanying complexities, and completes a very strong opening segment.
The best moment in this humble reviewer's opinion comes first single (in the UK, at least) "The Prayer" kicks in. Displaying a darker side of Bloc Party it starts off with bombastic drumming and a low hum, whilst the chorus is a joyous, nay, victorious(!) riot of melody and non-standard drumming. The lyrics centre around wanting to rise about what you're given, and stop living for the weekend. This is songwriting of a finer caliber than most artists, placing Bloc Party about a mile above their peers.
As with most albums there are some low points too. At first listen the second half of the album slides by nearly unnoticed, occasionally popping up with a moment not unlike U2. Compared to songs like "The Prayer" and "Uniform", songs like "On" and "Sunday" don't stick in your ear until the tenth listen and even after then "I still remember" makes for a bit of a letdown. What the band so brilliantly started on "Weekend..." isn't there when the album closes, instead approaching a quite typical pattern.
"Weekend in the City" balances on the line between progression and the contrived. Parts of the album might make you cringe, whilst other parts offer observations that pinpoint elements of everyday life so well it's almost scary. The band have taken the challenge of the sophomore album well, refusing to use their debut as a blueprint, yet maintaining some of the things that made them one of those bands you see on tv. Aside from a few moments of embarrassment, "Weekend in the City" is a great statement of promise, displaying songwriting talent that should give birth to a long line of good albums. It's not as instantly accessible as the band's debut, but is an album that will hold up over time.
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