Luke Conor Baker takes us through Bloc Party’s masterpiece, his favourite album.
A Weekend in the City is Bloc Party’s second studio album and was released in 2007. It peaked at number 2 in the UK Top 40, which at the time for an upcoming indie band was an achievement that highlighted its subtle brilliance.
The first track, Song for Clay (Disappear Here), puts immediate emphasis on frontman Kele Okereke’s distinct vocals, with a quiet melodic introduction. Falling somewhere between the haunting and the passionate, it is Okereke who sets the overall tone of the album, supported by simple but intelligent riffs and beats which compliment his sheer talent. This skillful blend is best heard on Hunting for Witches and The Prayer, in which throbbing drumbeats and impressive guitar work do not, in any way, impinge on vocal precision.
Yet there are softer edges to the album too, masterfully supported by original, thought-provoking lyrics. These occur towards the end of the record, beginning with the beautiful Kreuzberg, in which stunning allegories are made between feelings of emptiness and unfulfillment, and Berlin’s isolating history – ‘There is a wall that runs right through me / Just like the city, I will never be joined’. Kreuzberg is followed by the more upbeat but equally touching I Still Remember, a chronicle of an unrequited childhood love. This track in particular boasts the characteristic flair of guitarist Russell Lissack, with a repeated motif that is married perfectly to the song’s lyrics.
Arguably Bloc Party’s most well-known song, Flux, was included on the re-release of A Weekend in the City and definitely warrants mention. Although it seems anomalous sandwiched between the sweet reminiscence of I Still Remember and the tender, emotive Sunday, this unique, upbeat electro-indie anthem is adored to this day with over 14,000,000 plays on Spotify. It is hard not to be instantly drawn in by its mesmerising synth beats, screeching guitar riffs and anguished vocals, but Flux is also known for its bizarre video that features a Japanese kaiju (giant monster) battle, à la King Kong vs. Godzilla.
The album draws to a close with the climactic finale of SRXT, an otherwise soft tune that erupts into a symphonic crescendo. The darkly sweet final lyrics of the track, ‘Tell my mother I am sorry / And I loved her’ allude to the inspiration Okereke drew for this song from a school friend telling him about a failed suicide attempt. The song’s title also draws on this, being a variant on the antidepressant seroxat. In all, this very powerful song provides the perfect finale for such a thought-provoking album.
Bloc Party’s commercial success has always been fairly hit or miss. Their most recent album Hymns failed to make much of a splash despite a catchy lead single, and their various style experimentations in recent years have met with mixed reception. Yet thanks to a supportive fan base and a plethora of timeless anthems under their belt, many of which are featured on A Weekend in the City, the band retain a place in the alternative rock hall of fame.
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