Combining influences from the Cure, Sonic Youth, and the Clash, Bloc Party introduced high-velocity, extremely danceable indie rock unlike any of their contemporaries. Two years later, the Party has returned with A Weekend in the City, and it seems some profound changes have found frontman Kele Okereke, who brings us songs about depression, immigration, homosexuality, social anxieties, and life as a black Englishman in London. It’s safe to say that, while their personal struggles may be somewhat dark, the sun still shines on the abilities of these four young Brits.
The first half of A Weekend in the City is pure energy, as it hits the ground running with “Song for Clay,” a fiery poem about the pitfalls of fame and fortune. “Hunting for Witches” and “Waiting for the 7.18” are quick to follow up, two of the most intelligent and powerful tracks on the album. As usual, Matt Tong delivers percussion at inhuman velocities, while Okereke brings substance and texture to the table with his lyrics.
Somewhere around “On,” “A Weekend in the City” seems to slow down a bit. Okereke’s vocals get a big tired between “Where is Home?” and “Kreuzberg,” while “I Still Remember” borders on downright cheesy. Still though, the guys keep it together with “Sunday,” before delivering a simply prismatic conclusion with “SRXT,” a ballad about depression and suicide in college graduates—the song title referring to the acronym for the anti-depressant Seroxat. At the end of the day, there could not have been a better successor to Silent Alarm. Buy this album.