Urban decay

By and

Bloc PartyA Weekend in the CityViceThree-and-a-half out of five stars

With new releases from mega-hyped acts such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Arcade Fire and Bloc Party, 2007 is indie-rock’s Year of the Sophomore.

Turns out, it’s also the Chinese year of the pig-the slowest, laziest animal in the Chinese zodiac.

What does this all mean?

Hopefully, it won’t mean an uneventful year in music.

But of course, it could mean I will soon meet a long-lost family member in an unexpected way.

At least, that’s what my fortune cookie said.

Chinese takeout aside, with Bloc Party’s new release, A Weekend in the City, the year is off to a pretty good start.

The album is a racing fight to the finish with streaming guitars and breakneck drumming all the way through. From its rioting rock anthems to its sweetly orchestrated ballads, the album is thoroughly enjoyable.

But somehow, “enjoyable” still means a letdown from a band that showed such vast promise. Perhaps it’s the Curse of the Ridiculously Solid Debut Album, but somehow A Weekend in the City just doesn’t match up.

The urgency just isn’t there. It’s as if the tenacious grit and fiery intensity of Silent Alarm-along with Matt Tong’s ferocious drumming (why?!)-have been turned down and backgrounded. Though the album still capitalizes on the large riffs and anthem-like choruses, it fails to deliver the same force.

The first track of Weekend, for example, starts out with a Coldplay-like attempt at sentimentality with the lyrics, “I’m trying to be heroic in an age of modernity,” dramatically sung a cappella.


Perhaps Bloc Party has grown up. Maybe the band’s grown wiser. Or perhaps the intensity is gone because Bloc Party doesn’t have to prove itself anymore-rather than recording desperate demo tapes in a garage, the band’s grown comfortable in its cushy studio. Whatever it is, it’s still great music. We just hoped for better.