Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

The "difficult 2nd album" is one of the biggest pop culture's myths: if you have success with your debut and do something similar afterwards, you're accused of being limited; if you follow it with something radically different, you risk yourself of alienating your fans. This pressure can ultimately ruin careers or block an artist's creativity (as a recent example, just listen to the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album and ask yourself where their inspiration to write instant anthems has gone, underneath all the unnecessary pseudo-experimentation). After their debut "Silent Alarm", one of those fresh albums full of teenage urgency that defined the post-punk revival, Bloc Party have managed to find a balance between those two choices, including new elements and presenting new paths to their trademark sound but still being able to write those catchy choruses that seem to get stuck in your head. That's called evolution. With an ambition felt from start to end, A Weekend In The City is a collection of epic tales about London and its present, full of pessimism, desperation and doubts, with a seriousness that seems almost naïve. With less urgent songs and more detailed structures, a grandiose sound is constructed with the addition of computer programming, electronic synthesizers and surprising arrangements, while you can totally feel the almost mathematical dedication put into the making of this record. With a darker and moodier second album, it's true that they've probably lost some of that fresh approach that made "Silent Alarm" so irresistible, but their updated musical ambitions almost compensate for that. (7/10)

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