Tuesday, April 19, 2005

bloc party

Now that I've got an iPod I'm getting the opportunity to listen to records which previously I could never get it together to burn onto a CD or just remember to stick in my bag or my discman in the morning. Amongst other things, I've had a proper chance to listen to the recent album by Bloc Party - 'Silent Alarm'. After a couple of listens, I'm pretty sure that it's the closest thing I've heard in a good while to the perfect LP. The production is impossibly shiny, it's a perfect length, every song is bright, poppy, articulate and tuneful.

Additionally, it's the most boring album I've heard in ages.

The first comparison that springs to mind is with last year Futureheads album, which is another where practically every track is perfectly executed, where almost every song would make a smashing single. If anything, Bloc Party have even more strings to their bow, for they replicate the F'heads devotion to Wire, XTC and the Gang of Four but go further, referencing New Order, Fun Boy Three, Pil and the Happy Mondays along the way. The lyrics veer between poetic symbolism and naked political urgency. There's even a track ('So Here We Are') which is a kind of indie version of 'Blinded By The Lights' or 'Dreamy Days' - an E song. In other words, this is the most tasteful, modern (and nostalgic) record you'll hear in 2005.

If you buy it (or download it) you don't need to bother with getting hold of new stuff by the Killers, Interpol, Maximo Park, the Editors, Kaiser Chiefs or New Order - it does everything those records do. And almost every song is brilliant. But put together I'm aching to hear some mistakes, an unwise reggae song, a moment where - momentarily - the rhythm section aren't metronomically of a single mind. Doesn't even one of Bloc Party own a record made by a band without asymmetrical haircuts? The problem with an album where everything is perfect, immaculately mastered and segued is that there are no standout tracks, no big surprises. They frequently sound like Great Escape-era Blur, but there's no odd, sudden 'He Thought of Cars', 'The Universal' or 'Yuko and Hiro', and certainly no cheesy, throw away errors of judgement. It's just relentless, consistent, great music.

What a disappointment!


Stephen Newton said...

The new perfect is distressed.

Before opening a new pub, the team would rough it up. You know, scratching tables, even minor graffiti. Sounds weird, but people won't drink somewhere too new. So maybe that's a sound to go for. But how to distress a sound?

jonathan said...

I always like it when bands hire some top producer, record an album with hundreds of overdubs and re-takes, and then ask him to mix it so that it sounds like some tinny new wave record. Hilarious.

I read a good quote by Mark E. Smith, who says he aims to record the record so that about 50% of it is free of mistakes. If he gets that much right, he doesn't bother about the rest. Ace.

Anonymous said...

what a ridiculous cock u are-u really know nothing about music or production
its a great record and side 2 particulary contains no single sounding songs-so here we are sounds liek the cocteau twins covering les savy fav.
to compare them to blur at al shows u have a very ltd knowledge of music-they have more in common with us indie like sleater kinney,les savy fav,trans am,pretty grils make graves etc etc.
also the album was prodcued by paul epworth and was only the 2nd lp he s ever done-hardly a super producer

jonathan said...

oh, actually I wasn't really talking about Bloc Party when I was talking about tinny recordings and expensive producers. The Bloc Party album is actually pretty good in that respect. I was thinking more of those trebly, flat records by the likes of The Vines, or the second Strokes LP.