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CD Reviews: Review of Silent Alarm by Bloc Party
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Bloc Party: Silent Alarm (Vice 2005)

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There is a moment on “Positive Tension,” the third song on Bloc Party’s debut album, Silent Alarm, when lead singer Kele Okereke asks the question, “Why’d you have to get so fucking useless?” As he spits out the last three words of this query, the music goes silent for just an instant, but it’s sufficient to raise the intensity level of the obscenity tenfold.

If you aren’t a fan of the band after this moment, you may well never be.

It’s said that Bloc Party are equally inspired by Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Gang of Four, and the Cure, but the combination of those four artists seems pretty scary and not nearly as melodic as the album the band has actually produced. Given the Gang of Four reference, it’s terribly unsurprising to discover that Bloc Party has a connection to Franz Ferdinand; when Okereke sent a copy of their demo to Franz Ferdinand, it resulted in an invitation to play the Domino Tenth Anniversary bash in late 2003. The two bands don’t possess identical sounds by any means – Bloc Party’s sound is far more expansive, finding them unafraid to place their occasional quirkiness within mainstream pop trappings – but it’s not hard to imagine someone scrambling to describe Bloc Party and coming up with the phrase, “Well, they’re kinda like Franz Ferdinand.” Vocally, however, Okereke bears far more of a resemblance to Damon Albarn than to Alex Kapranos.

With a name like Bloc Party, it’s no surprise that the group ventures into political territory with their lyrics; a song called “Price of Gas” is self-explanatory, but, on “Helicopters,” it’s full-on Bush bashing: “Just like his Dad, just like his Dad / The same mistakes / Some things will never be different.” Some might think that sentiments such as these could hurt Bloc Party’s shot at mainstream success in the States, but, then again, this is the brave new world where Bright Eyes is allowed to sing “When the President Talks to God” on “The Tonight Show.”

There have been a lot of remarkable debut albums to emerge from the UK in recent months - the Delays, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, and Keane, just to name a few - and Bloc Party unquestionably deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those up-and-comers. Along with Kaiser Chiefs’ Employment, Silent Alarm is an early favorite in the race to be declared one of the best releases of 2005. 

~Will Harris 


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