A horrible hack

Bloc Party

Silent Alarm

Year Released: 2005
Format: CD
Label: wichita
Reviewed by Chris Peacock on Jun 13, 2007
I first heard Bloc Party nearly a whole year before their debut album, Silent Alarm, was due to be released. To say then that the album was greatly anticipated is an understatement to say the least as not only was there a longer than expected release date but the band had long been coined as “this year’s Franz Ferdinand”. The comparisons between the two lie only in their mutual record label as Bloc Party by their own admission are an “autonomous unit of un-extraordinary kids reared on pop culture between the years of 1976 and the present day” keen to establish their own indelible mark on British music. After a long wait and spiralling media hype the bands’ album speaks volumes in itself.

'Something glorious is about to happen' (‘Positive Tension’) just about sums up the feeling when listening to Silent Alarm. From the outset, this is a remarkable, truly inspirational work. The angular strut of dance-floor fillers "Banquet", "Helicopter" and "Luno" may satisfy the current post-punk-funk vogue, yet Bloc Party are equally adept at sanding down the rough edges and smoothing out the angles. "This Modern Love", "Blue Light" and the single "So Here We Are" are three of the gentlest, most touching and atmospheric ballads to emerge from British music in recent years. But it is their blistering pace and tone that makes Bloc Party’s music so relentless, frantic, emotional and beautiful all at the same time. Matt Tong’s energised and creative drum patterns alongside Lissack's range of unique guitar effects and Okereke's powerfuly emotive and edgy vocals create a sound that is both skillful, confident and astonishing for a debut album.

Part of the joy in listening to the album is the speculation on where the band draw their influences, or if indeed it is possible to trace inspirational elements in their sound. Bloc Party have confessed to being reared from a musical spectrum that runs from Kate Bush, Gang of Four, Joy Division to Black Sabbath, suggesting perhaps that the band are a true product of the 21st Century where a youthful society are so immersed, saturated and aware of popular culture that any creative output becomes an expansive hybrid of pop, punk, rock, dance and electronica. The central track ‘The Pioneers’ in this way rings true of their own unique mix of musical genres creating a sound that has 'A sense of purpose and a sense of skill.’

When a band is surrounded by an excessive amount of media attention and hype there is always a danger that they will struggle to live up to their own reputation, but having witnessed the bands’ live performance, it is safe to say that they have the same resounding and powerful effect whether on stage or on record. Perhaps my only misgivings for the album is that their early single ‘Little Thoughts’ did not make the final album cut. However Silent Alarm is never short of memorable and infectious songs. The highlight for me has to be ‘Banquet’, a song that has a tempo and groove that will never fail to get you taping your feet and nodding your head wherever you may be whilst ‘Like Eating Glass’ as an opening track, sets the benchmark for a fantastic collection of well honed and crafted songs.

In short, Bloc Party will be a closely watched band in amongst the recent creative burst in British music, whilst for the future they have a difficult second album to work on. Yet for now it is refreshing to listen to a band that revels in the music they make whilst retaining an honesty and passion for their craft. Silent Alarm is a must have album for any self-respecting fan of new music.

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