Chopped up, simmered and stewed is how the tried and true, hit-and-miss brits Bloc Party are sounding. The instant classic Silent Alarm and the less-than-intergalatic A Weekend in the City are on the same plate, smooshed together, ushering the band into a gray area of electronic blip rock. Then again, this record oscillates from an uncertain future to the typical Kele Okereke and the boys. There is a little something for everyone... the question is, is it enough of anything to please?
First single "Mercury" is the former style, a neo-Bloc Party sample-fest featuring Kele spewing some 'interesting' half-sentences over bass heavy riffs. It was met with some skepticism, and rightfully so. Not only is it insisting on being considered prog-rock of the twenty-second century, it's just plain annoying. However despite this style weighing the record down, some serious Silent Alarm era constructions emerge: "Biko" and especially "Halo." They don't escape untouched by a twinge of that new-age synth trigger, but they come a hell of a lot closer to what I love about this band.
Then there is "Trojan Horse" (following the mythological naming sequence of the album), which is a successful step for the band into a new sound. The stripped down guitars worked in the past, but like all good music, comes with a need for evolution (at least contextually). The band succeeds in crafting a balance of sorts. Of course, the movement shifts awkwardly into "Signs," a strange bells and bass track, which is neat, but feels out of place.
At the end of the day, this is better than the last album. I'll take it. Even if it feels like an awkward era of adolescence (like most first desires for 'intimacy'), it's better than being childish. And even better, it could mean that maturity is just around the corner. -joe puglisi