Bloc Party: Silent Alarm Rating: 8.1 (out of 10)
Bloc Party's debut album has been seen and heard on everything from MTV to The O.C. but that doesn't mean it sucks. To the contrary, it means that mainstream outlets are finally starting to realize that there is good rock music being played by independent artists. Actually, with recent commercial smashes by Death Cab, Bright Eyes, and Modest Mouse, the mainstream sources are just going where the money is, but maybe, just maybe, they are learning that there is more to music in the 21st century than hip-hop and American Idol.
Anyway, this album is quite good. It's somewhat difficult to describe in that it ventures across a whole spectrum of styles, but somehow comes together nicely. It sounds a lot like a lot of bands you've heard, from New Order/Joy Division to Echo and the Bunnymen to modern rockers like Interpol, but still manages to sound faintly original. The lead singer's voice is peculiarly close to the short-lived UK favorite Adorable, which is interesting, and they certainly will draw comparisons to Franz Ferdinand, although this album is far superior than that band's much-loved debut. I don't know exactly what the sound is - post/punk/80s revival, or something that has sprung full-formed from the UK underground, but it is wonderful.
"Like Eating Glass" starts off the album, a grander and snappier version of lead single "Banquet" (the one you're hearing in the mainstream media right now), and the chorus is eminently catchy and hummable. After a couple of lesser tunes, the tracks kick into full gear in the middle section, with the georgeous slow melody "Blue Light", the driving beats of "She's Hearing Voices", and the album's centerpiece "This Modern Love", which could have been ripped from a best-of-Bunnymen set from 1985. The album takes some stabs as politics, with the otherwise banal "Price of Gas" and the war-themed "Helicopters", but really hits home with the brilliant "Pioneers":
If it can be broke, then it can be fixed. If it can be fused, then it can be split.
It's all under control. It's all under control. It's all under control. It's all under control.
If it can be lost, then it can be won. If it can be touched, then it can be turned.
All you need is time, all you need is time, all you need is time, all you need is time.
Other standout tracks include the melodious "So Here We Are" and the quiet closer "Compliments". The mood switches from slow to fast to catchy to violent throughout the album, though, never once providing a target for jaded sensibilities. It does try too hard in certain places, and at 14 songs, could have stood for an edit or two. But this is an impressive debut full-length, for sure, and I am highly anticipating the future of Bloc Party, while also enjoying its present. You can take a look at the album here.