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Bloc Party:: Weekend in the City (Album Review)

Critical adulation and commercial success hasn’t changed Bloc Party. On A Weekend In The City, they’re still rolling with the punches, frustrated by small minds, social inequality, and a world that reduces the life’s wonderful possibilities to a grey routine. “East London is a vampire,” sings Kele Okereke on the opening “Song For Clay (Disappear Here)”, “it sucks the life right out of me.” This, unmistakably, is Kele’s album. Whereas the group’s debut, 2005’s Silent Alarm, felt powered primarily by the sturdy rhythm section of Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong, here the whooshing groove recedes slightly, allowing for more lyrical reflections: see “Waiting For The 7.18”, which finds Okereke pondering the quiet hell of the daily commute, or “Where Is Home?” – a thoughtful, bruised song about racism given a special bite by stint of Kele’s background as a second-generation Nigerian immigrant. Also notable is a move towards more synthetic, electronic textures, thanks in part to the presence of producer Jacknife Lee. If before, Bloc Party sometimes sounded like they were trying to be machine-like, now they actually do, drums arranged in dense loops, guitars gasping robotic feedback. All in all, it’s a less gripping album than Silent Alarm – but it’s definitely a growth, and in the long run, it may prove easier to love. –Louis Pattison