The Bloc Party story begins at the Reading Festival where singer/guitarist Kele Okereke and guitarist Russell Lissack were introduced through mutual friends. Bassist/singer Gordon Moakes and drummer Matt Tong were soon added with the group operating under the names Angel Range, and later, Union. They cut a demo in '03 before renaming themselves Bloc Party. Concerts gained a fair amount of notoriety but they really scored when Okereke sent a demo to Franz Ferdinand who had Bloc Party open for them at the Domino Tenth Anniversary party. From there Block Party went the indie route releasing a couple singles on different labels before producing a full-length self-titled effort in '04. It was followed, a year later, by "Silent Alarm."
Bloc Party unfurled their 11-track "Weekend In The City," featuring lead single, "The Prayer," in early '07. Recorded in Ireland, at Lodge Studios, the album was inspired by Okereke's interest in 'the living noise of a metropolis' or the extremes, both good and bad, of life in a city.
Bloc Party scheduled "Intimacy," with the lead single "Mercury," for release in late '08. Okereke stated that the album had the "rawness" of "Silent Alarm," but the "experience" of "A Weekend In The City."
An online promotion of the single created a bit of controversy - and not the good kind. "Mercury" was slated for exclusive broadcast on Zane Lowe's BBC's Radio One show. Keeping his enthusiasm muted and limiting any hyperbole Lowe called the song the "hottest track in the world." So far so good.
A countdown timer replaced the band's website for three days prior the broadcast leaving fans with the impression new music was going to be distributed online at the countdown's conclusion. When that didn't happen, some expressed anger and disappointment over what was seen as a publicity stunt. Eventually, the album was available for download prior to the CD's release.
Months later, Okereke stated that the band did not have a current recording contract and had no obligation or pressure to release a new album in the foreseeable future. However, the single "One More Chance," a track not on "Intimacy," was released before the group went on an extended hiatus.
Rumors percolated that Okereke had left the group (or been fired). No doubt they were enhanced by Okerke's solo career - '10 album "The Boxer, and the follow-up EP "The Hunter," released in '11. That same year though, Bloc Party began work on their fourth album, aptly titled "Four." The set dropped in '12.
2005 Silent Alarm
2007 A Weekend In The City
Okereke's vocal guises include R & B crooner, street preacher, Bluesman (complete with processed vocals), Punk Rock raver and even Grunge wailer. The band is adept at going where Okereke's vocals dictate but it's the latter two incarnations that work best. "So He Begins To Lie," "V.A.L.I.S, "Team A" and the one-percenter bashing "We Are Not Good People" are the key tracks on "Four."
Despite the buzz, "Mercury" is not the ""hottest track in the world." It's not even the best track on "Intimacy." The Dance-Rock song is eclipsed by the uptempo guitar driven "Talons," "Halo" and "Letter To My Son." "Trojan Horse" is another keeper as it runs up against the walls of its own groove.
The slower material tends to drift, taking too long to get going, or has to battle the surrounding din.
"A Weekend In The City" starts far better than it ends. The opening track, "Song For Clay (Disappear Here)" is a slow-to-fast guitar song. "Hunting For Witches" features a tight riff and heartfelt vocals. There's the sparse, Wave sounding "Waiting For The 7:18" and the dramatic "The Prayer." So far, so good. But here, the album inexplicably falls off the table. The next four songs are slow, meandering pieces with delicate guitar lines and more introspective, intimate vocals. It's rather boring. "I Still Remember," a solid pop song, revives things a bit.
On "Silent Alarm," Bloc Party connects with slashing guitars and strong vocals ("Helicopter" and "Banquet"). But their Punk flavored romps alternate with dreamy, '80s influenced tracks. "Blue Lights" is slow and wistful and "So Here We Are" features breathy vocals (a Bloc Party trait). Not surprisingly, Bloc Party are far more entertaining as Punk revivalists than as a Wave band.
Bloc Party's self-titled debut contains "Staying Fat" which was their first song to make a dent. The set also contains a couple tracks that appear on "Silent Alarm."