MUSIC REVIEW: Bloc Party

A Weekend in the City Vice
Music •••• Sound ••••
Angular guitars meet skittery drum 'n' bass on Bloc Party's sophomore effort, an ambitious, album-long look at the unsettled yearnings of today's British youth. A Weekend in the City delivers on the promise of 2005's diverse Silent Alarm, throwing down the 2007 gauntlet for grand, thematic statement pieces. (Songwriters, start your concept albums!)

A number of the 11 tunes here are constructed to build toward moments of impact by starting out relatively sparse for a minute or so before the full band kicks in. That move borders on the formulaic, but the material is strong enough to carry the load. A perfect example is "Uniform" - an indictment of the conformity of fashion that could be subtitled "Smells Like Metrosexual Spirit" - where Matt Tong's rat-a-tat drums don't appear until more than 2 minutes into the track. Then, a distorted, squealy solo arrives 2 minutes later to ride things out until the cooldown and the outro, which rightly mirrors lead Bloc'er Kele Okereke's general sense of malaise. His metropolitan diary is also spot-on during "Waiting for the 7:18," marrying Big Countryesque guitar riffs - duly updated for the 21st century - with the kind of restless rhythm that Franz Ferdinand fans perpetually bop their heads to.

Hopes are high that the insistent singalong "I Still Remember" will dent the singles chart. But honestly, any of the songs here could seep into the collective consciousness - the hangover lament of "Sunday," the string-laden electronic temptation of "On," the determined blueprint of "The Prayer." Weekend captures a generation's angst: All the rhythm and heat, all the longing and unfulfilled promises, and all the hunger and desire add up to the perfect soundtrack for twentysomethings loose in a burgeoning metropolis. Welcome to the real world, mates. Welcome to the Big City.

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