red lights


An inviting introduction

Bloc Party

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 4, 2005

Review by Andy Argyrakis

When singer Kele Okereke decided to start a band with his guitar playing acquaintance Russell Lissack in 1999, they committed to writing tirelessly together until something worth recording was churned out. A year later they met bass player Gordon Moakes, who responded to the pair's add in NME looking for a member who already liked Sonic Youth, Joy Division, The Pixies and DJ Shadow. Fitting the profile, he jumped on board with the group's official (and ninth overall drummer) Matt Tong, who rounded out the line-up come 2003. With all of the positions in place, the foursome tirelessly toured around the area, earning an explosive reputation that often mirrored the aforementioned artists, leading to a deal with Wichita UK (an East London indie label) in 2004. A series of singles and raving reviews inspired America's Vice (also home to The Streets) to jump on board, releasing Silent Alarm this spring.
And like the second half of the title implies, this fourteen-track project is an explosion of sound likely to wake even the deepest sleeper up from slumber. It begins with the cacophonic crashes of "Like Eating Glass," underidden by a shuddering bounce of a bass line. The group dips even further in the dance direction on "Positive Tension" (think Franz Ferdinand with a techno flavor) while leaning towards massive guitar crescendos on "So Here We Are." "Compliments" takes a totally different turn, resting in a more atmospheric, moody downbeat and signifying the album's sole chill out moment.
Even with those turns in the right direction, there are also a few instances where Bloc Party dips towards sounding derivative of its obvious muses. "Little Thoughts" sounds like it came straight from the Joy Division soaked late 70s while "Blue Light" seems gleaned from The Smiths' motif. The hooky "Banquet" is likely to get stuck in one's head, but the bass line feels so much like The Cure's "A Forest" at times that it's more distracting than engaging. Such missteps detract slightly from an otherwise inviting introduction of a satisfyingly strident new act transporting instrumental themes from yesteryear to the more current contexts.

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