Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"If you want to know what makes me sad/ Well it's hope, the endurance of faith..."

Yours truly (to the left) at a Bloc Party signing @ Intonation Festival 2006

Boy do I love some fucking Bloc Party. When this album leaked I was equal parts sad and excited. It took me quite a while to decide if I was going to review or post from it and I finally decided I would post... but not any new 'album' tracks. This is the second part of my review with all sorts of (non-album) awesomeness to get you excited. Let's start with a little video from the above festival...

And here's the video from that day @ Intonation Festival... it's actually pretty good quality!

As I've taken a more in depth look at the theme and the lyrics, it's become apparent that this is the 'grown up' version of the Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not... It deals with going out, getting fucked up, feeling great, having a good old time, and having to deal with the fall out afterwards. In fact, fall out is one of the main themes of this album... What happens after terrorist attacks? What happens when people feel displaced? Where do I belong NOW? Is there anyone here for me? Is any of this real? Is this really worth it? Can I go on? There have been a lot of albums tackling the day-to-day working class grind in 2006 but this album comes at it from a different angle. Is there hope after things (i.e. buses, buildings, brain cells, adolescence) are destroyed or disappear? I hope you guys enjoy my assessment and PLEASE feel free to comment!

Here's the b-side of the album...

7) Where Is Home?

This is another identity/immigration song starting out "Everyday, we are reminded, that this is not home for us..." adding to further the existential dread on this album a little more. I think this is quite a strong song on the second half, and makes good use of 'choir vocals' (like 'The Prayer') and stutter effects. This certainly isn't a hard sounding song, nor is it a light ballad... this is one of the songs that shows their new approach holds water. A driving beat with a tortured melody. (Btw I think this song is about Kele's cousin who was killed in a 'racist attack' and, OBVIOUSLY, how his family dealt with it).

8) Kreuzburg

This starts out with an intro that will remind you of 'This Modern Love' but to write it off as derivative would be silly... that most certainly isn't the case, because the moment the drums kick in and Kele starts singing "I/ I have decided/ At 25/ That something has to change" this song will wrap itself right around your heart. That is unless you hate Bloc Party. Because if you do I don't think this track is going to convert you... in short if you like them this song will captivate you after one listen on a pair of headphones, but people who don't like Bloc Party will site this song as being a weak link. And they will be wrong. If you ARE in your mid-twenties then lines like "After sex/ The bitter taste/ Been fooled again/ The search continues" will really resonate (especially if you DO live in the city)... but if you're a 36 year old surly music critic this shit will seem so far away and so opposed to your need for another 'Gang Of Four like' album that you will hate it. End of story.

9) I Still Remember

Bloc Party- "It Started In An Afternoon (Live @ Northumbria)" which is an early version of I Still Remember
Bloc Party- "It Started In An Afternoon (Live @ Northumbria)" zShare

This is a song about a love that could have been, and how if reminded Kele would still remember and it could blossom now... and that is a nice sentiment. Problem is this is one of the weaker songs on the album. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty little song and will grace MANY mix tapes... but it just doesn't aim for (and hence doesn't achieve) the greatness that the rest of the album does. I think cursory listens to the album made people say it's front loaded because of this song. Because it doesn't have the depth or the experimental reach that the rest of the album does (I mean it's not bad, it good enough, but it should have been a b-side and it could have held it's own). AND it also drags down the song before it and the song after it....

10) Sunday
This is the song that the LAST song should have been. It tackles adult themes saying "I love you in the morning , When you’re still hung-over/ I love you in the morning, when you’re still strung out", saying 'no, this wasn't a one night stand, I really care about you even after the magic of our booze and drug filled nights ends'. The lyrics on this song are fucking fantastic and show that even if a Bloc Party song is softer it can still carry a wallop. Anybody agree with me on this? Because this song is not fluff. It really helps the theme work as more of a story.

11) SXRT
By this time, I will admit, you are probably saying "What's up with all the slow stuff, huh Bloc? You guys lost all the party on the first half of the album!" and I can't blame you. But listen close to the lyrics (just like on the last song) and you will appreciate how fucking great this song is. This album is a great album closer... especially since it's about killing yourself (and frankly we know their isn't anything more rock'n'roll than that right? lol). "If you want to know what makes me sad/ Well it's hope, the endurance of faith/ A battle that lasts a lifetime/ A fight that never ends" is a perfect description of a life led in too much quiet desperation seeking a final solution. These are some of the best lyrics they've ever written by a mile. Outside of one song this whole second half has been really emotionally intense and (I think) the better for it.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO what's my final assessment? I think this is a great sophomore album. I also think it's going to be a sort of Kid A sort of thing where people are either going to love it or hate it. Once again if you're looking for a direct descendant of post punk it's not here; this album has post punk influences but it's not just that, this has a lot more ambition than that. People who only really liked the really guitar driven Bloc Party songs will hate this album and talk it into the ground, whereas people who appreciate the bands vision and enjoy their more sensitive stuff will love it.

BUT, for all the nice things I've said about it, I think "Uniform" and "I Still Remember" are the two weak-er songs on here. It's not that they aren't good but, they just aren't as strong as the rest of them. "Uniform" and it's cock rock guitars I've heard 7 million times bore me to a degree but it's still a good song (however I think this is the track that the 'guitar' loving BlocHeads will dig; I will only deduct .5 for this) and "I Still Remember" does sort of seem like Laguna Beach fodder in comparison to "SXRT" (for which I will take off a whole point). But I think it's a fantastic album overall and I can't stop listening to it!

Final Rating: 8.5/10

(But it's a 10 in my heart!)

This is a track I'm REALLY excited to hear as a b-side... from what I've read in the official Bloc Party Forum this should have been on the album it's so good...

Bloc Party- "Blue Moon (Live @ Newcastle) which is the original title for a new song called "England"

Bloc Party- "Blue Moon (Live @ Newcastle)" zShare

Here's the original demo for "She's Hearing Voices"...
Bloc Party- "She's Hearing Voices (demo)" zShare
Speaking of old tracks here's a SUPER old Bloc Party video...

Here's the hidden track off of 'Silent Alarm' (which is the first track on the vinyl version)...

Bloc Party- "Everytime Is The Last Time" YSI

Bloc Party- "Everytime Is The Last Time" zShare

Here's a fucking wicked awesome remix from MSTRKRFT (who Heather and I got to see, after the Lady Sov show, @ Smartbar)...

Bloc Party- "Two More Years (MSTRKRFT Remix)" zShare

Bloc Party- "Two More Years (MSTRKRFT Remix)" YSI

Then while I've got your lust for 'Sensitive Bloc' going... how about that M83 remix off Silent Alarm Remixed?

Bloc Party- "The Pioneers (M83 Remix)" YSI

Bloc Party- "The Pioneers (M83 Remix)" zShare

And while you're at it... there's a BUNCH of recently arrived Bloc Party EPs over at eMusic for you to enjoy... from the 'Dimmakified' remix EP, to 'Two More Years' to the original 'Bloc Party EP' that I had Kele sign this summer... it's all there! And if you click on the link below you will make me some MUCH needed Christmas money!


Eva said...

thanks for the hidden bloc party track. but come on now, uniform is pretty good. you're right on i still remember tho, weakest track imo.

Patch said...

Ok, I am willing to admit that 'Uniform' isn't a BAD track... it's just probably not my style and I should try to be more objective about reviews as I write them. I think my radioshow partner would probably like it and therefore it's ok by me!