Hype generates a high death count, because critics are merciless. Bands with ridiculous amounts of hype seem to have big white signs with bold red lettering that spell out "KICK ME" on their backs. When these particular bands do not deliver, every minor insufficiency is exacerbated to squelch them out of existence. Giving them a fair listen is nearly impossible, because there are so many preconceived notions dashing about. Even with a critical mind, however, Bloc Party appear to live up to most of their hype.
Musically precise, well thought out, with almost immaculate delivery, Bloc Party's songs manage to sound fresh without being too refined and manufactured. They take some cues from Franz Ferdinand, who they have been constantly linked to as a result of sending an early demo, by skimming away all the excess noise and notes in their songs leaving only the necessities to create the strong debut album Silent Alarm. They are quite passionate with their rails against conformity, politics, and relationships, but they are short-changed on solutions - as is the flaw of many other bands.
Beginning with the visceral "Like Eating Glass," Bloc Party prove they are not another frivolous "next big thing" band. Stinging guitars and brash drumming drive this epic Gang of Four-influenced song. As Kele Okereke belts out sensory stimulating lyrics, bassist Gordon Moakes, guitarist Russell Lissack, and drummer Matt Tong earnestly follow his lead with their unrelenting energy. The intensity never backs down; waves of notes and beats constantly pound towards the surface. The fury continues in "Helicopter" as Okereke spouts "Stop being so American/There's a time and there's a place/ 'Gonna save the world/He's gonna/Are you hoping for a miracle?" The lyrics appear to target Bush, but they also address the frustration of inaction and over-reliance on faith.
On their first single "Banquet," Bloc Party tranquilize the tempo one notch, enough to notice a difference but not sufficient enough to prevent some hardcore dancing. Probably a staple at hip indie music clubs, its interacting guitars, precise pauses, and subtle but effective bass incite the body to move in response. Drawing more of an upbeat Smiths influence in "Little Thoughts," the band sounds sedated in comparison to their playing in power tracks "Luno" and "Price of Gas," but it is just as catchy as the other songs on the album.
While writing incredibly infectious political raucous rants, Bloc Party do not shy away from the warm complexities of the human heart. Okereke can yelp lyrics like "With spades and truncheons, guns and trowels/That is how the war will be won/Just swat the fly" and also croon "And I nearly didn't notice/The gentlest feeling" with his band mates following faithfully by shifting their playing from raw to flourishing beauty. The band pairs unorthodox militaristic drumming with twinkling guitar riffs that actually contribute to the tranquil reverence in "Blue Light." This compliance does not result as mere experimentation, but as intelligent songwriting.
Already in the running for best new band of the year, they are justifiably placed in that position. They are not limited by any specific tempo or theme, unlike their consistently fast-paced, sex-crazed peers Franz Ferdinand. Their versatility and their almost flawless execution set them apart from the wave of struggling new bands.
9.1 / 10
Posted Jan. 19, 2005, 5:43 a.m.
The video for Seemless' track "Lay My Burden Down" has been posted online. You can view it here. The band's re-released self-titled effort will be out Tuesday, January 25th ...
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