by Daniel Berman
The opening track of Bloc Party's latest release, Disappear Here begins with the pounding of a drum, a triumphant slice of electric guitar, and a driving bass line that never lets up.
There's only one problem: you can't understand anything they say.
Bloc Party front man Kele Okereke (kay-lay oh-care-ree-kee) brings his familiar voice back for the band's second album Weekend in the City. Okereke’s voice, normally soft, calming and slightly British, has been so heavily distorted that discerning lyrics is nearly impossible. His microphone technique lets the listener hear, with voyeuristic clarity, every nuance of his singing -- the slap of his tongue hitting the roof of his mouth, the clicking of his teeth, and every single shallow gasp for oxygen.
The album features a layered sound heavy on electric guitar, and light on epic tracks. Where songs off their previous album Silent Alarm might have started out strong, climbed towards an anthemic summit, and ended in a dazzle of rock vitriol, this latest album whimpers away before it ever gets truly good.
A few of these new 11 tracks feature an epic sound and a frenetic beat, they are just tough to discover. Where is Home begins slowly with an angelic sound, but builds to a momentous guitar solo. On feels like a classic Radiohead song, missing only Thom Yorke himself, but this homage hits just as beautifully with its dotting of synthesizer and impressive drumming.
Weekend in the City is a hit-and-miss album. Though it features a dizzying array of sound and has tremendous emotional impact, a plethora of British slang, and Okereke’s unintelligible vocals make this album a disappointment.
What I liked most about Silent Alarm, and where this album cannot compete, was in its indefinable “epic-ness,” that certain quality about an album that makes us want to do a knee-slide across a stage and grab the mic stand. Fans of Bloc Party and their original, better sound should pass this one up.