Sound — 9
So here's the moment of truth -- after a successful first album the band releases its sophomore record, bringing in a verdict if they're worth something or it was just a one-hit wonder. The second album from English indie rock band Block Party hits the store shelves a year after their debut, it is out on Vice Records and is titled A Weekend In The City. Is it just a waste if time or a revolution in music? Let's find out. Time has made its job, Block Party are not that silly and happy as they were on Silent Alarms. They've grown up a bit and now everything is darker and more depressive, with more attention to the lyrics. While the music often refers to Radiohead, the guitars borrow the sound of U2. The songs are unpredictable, you never know what to expect after the next chorus or even within it. Sometimes it is so evident, that it seems the parts of one song were taken for different tracks or composed by different bands and it was some weird joke to put them all together. Block Party started working on A Weekend In The City January 2005 and by the end of the process they probably were a different band, carrying totally different ideas about their own music, which found reflection in the album. It's hard to describe some particular tracks as every one of them has something to talk about. Every song is a little experience, involving you to taste it. There's powerful orchestra crescendo part in the last track SRXT, incredible guitar work in Uniform. The weirdest track, and at the same time closest to the debut Silent Alarm, is Hunting For Witches with danceable rhythms and sounds invented on the raise of electronic era.
Lyrics — 9
When it seems that love is a restricted topic for musicians as the subject has been sung about a million times, being described all possible ways, Block Party manages to do something impossible -- they sing about love as nobody has ever done it! Their I love you in the morning/When you're still hungover touches deeply. What more can you ask from a person if he loves you even when you're hung over! Apart from that A Weekend In The City has songs on more serious subjects -- like terrorist attack-influenced Hunting The Witches. Radiohead comparison is most appropriate when it comes to the vocals. Following Tom York's way of singing, the emotions in Kele Okereke's voice are barely evident as he sings in a very melancholic way. At the same time he has a deep, rich for overtones voice. When he tries to change the usual way of singing, there's pity (opera-like falsetto in the opener Song For Clay (Disappear Here) and hysteria (desperate screaming in Waiting For The 7.18). The back vocals are living their own life in the songs, not only ignoring the main lyrics, but often leading a different melody.
Overall Impression — 9
The record is thought-out in every little detail and thus really polished, sometimes even overproduced. The guys took it serious working on A Weekend In The City, not hurrying anywhere in the process, treating the album like their baby. They've spent more than a year deciding, among other matters, how loud the rhythm guitar should be, what order the tracks should appear, changing the track titles and picking up the artwork for the CD cover. The tracks are often complicated and tightly stuffed, as if the musicians were afraid not to put every single idea they had into the album. It's hard to swallow such a huge amount of information at once, and every time you'll listen to the album, you'll find something new. At least until you get to learn all the songs by heart. A Weekend In The City is really different from the band's earlier efforts and thus very difficult to compare and judge. The band is maturing, changing their music as they grow. Whether you'll like the album or not is a matter of your own preferences and being ready for a challenge. Let yourself a little trip through the album's thoughts and moods and you won't regret it!