Bloc Party; “Silent Alarm”

When you think block parties you think drunken college students parading around Frat Park, people dancing in the streets to Tom Petty or even little kids running through fire hydrants on hot summer days.

You probably don’t think of an artsy indie band from London playing some sort of post-garage rock combination of Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads.

Or maybe you do. In a world where The Killers and Modest Mouse sit side-by-side with Kelly Clarkson and Ludacris on the singles charts it is obvious that popular taste is veering towards something much more eclectic. So don’t be surprised if you hear Bloc Party’s lead single “Banquet” at your next frat event. It is an infectious rollicking performance of electric guitars, dance beats and heartbreaking vocals. The melodies stand out, but the foot-stomping beat that bookmarks the beginning and ending of the song put it into classic territory.

The quartet from across the pond are riding high on a humongous wave of buzz that has critics hailing them as this year’s Ferdinand. While the Franz were a huge success last year, the better post-punk/indie rock album from last year was The Futureheads’ debut, and this band shares more in common with that maniacally creative piece.

“This Modern Love” is the other side of Bloc Party, a relaxed yet poignant ballad-ish look at (surprisingly!) modern love. What really comes to the forefront is the vocal prowess of lead singer Kele Okereke, as the group dips into a capella for a few moments. There is a dreamy brit-pop feel that glazes over the entire album (even the cover art is so The Man Who) and gives the record its heart.

The title, Silent Alarm, somehow perfectly describes the fluctuating noise of the album. It soars high on rockers like “Helicopter” then comes down to earth on ballads like “So Here We Are.” They artfully capture the earnestness of the U2s and Coldplays of the world on some tracks then follow them with nods to Gang of Four and Blur on the next. It’s a fusion that produces mostly stellar results.

The album does lack the consistency of The Futureheads’ or Interpol’s debut (occasionally slipping into overt politics on “Price of Gas”), but the same energy is present and is what is most exciting about all these albums. People cling to the energy, they dance to the energy, and they fall apart with the energy. The reason indie music such as this has become so widespread nowadays is precisely because of this, and Bloc Party has an ample amount to spread.

Leave a Reply