Silent Alarm

Silent Alarm

4.2 17
by Bloc Party
     
 

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There has been so much pillaging of Joy Division and Gang of Four's signature post-punk sounds of late, it actually prompted the latter to reform. While few of today's current crop of sideways haircuts are worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those bands, Bloc Party live up to the hype. Even on

Overview

There has been so much pillaging of Joy Division and Gang of Four's signature post-punk sounds of late, it actually prompted the latter to reform. While few of today's current crop of sideways haircuts are worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those bands, Bloc Party live up to the hype. Even on early singles like the brooding, propulsive "She's Hearing Voices" and the dance-floor stomper "Banquet," they displayed a level of talent that eclipsed most of their peers. Both songs are included on Silent Alarm, a visceral rush of a debut that already finds them working at the top of their game. Frontman Kele Okeneke (who at times sounds a bit like Robert Smith) can go from a whisper to a wail in a heartbeat, and his guitar interplay with Russell Lissack is exciting and inventive -- check out the way they trade riffs on "Helicopter" and "Positive Tension." They also know when to let the guitars drop out of the mix while the rhythm section propels things. (Heaven forbid they ever lose hyperactive drummer Matt Tong, Bloc Party's not-so-secret weapon.) Furthermore, Silent Alarm is the sound of a band that has already moved beyond the scene that inspired it. Look to the ethereal "So Here We Are" and "This Modern Love" for likely signs of things to come. When the dust settles and hipsters have moved on to the next hot musical trend, Bloc Party will, no doubt, still be vital.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Much more polished, serious, and straight-ahead than their initial EPs suggested, Bloc Party's debut album, Silent Alarm, reveals them as a band equally informed by taut art-punk and the grand gestures and earnestness of groups like Coldplay and U2. Though they're not quite as stadium-sized expansive as either of those two bands (yet), Bloc Party sound a lot more comfortable making proclamations like "Positive Tension"'s "Something glorious is about to happen/A reckoning!" than contemporaries like Franz Ferdinand or the Futureheads would be. Silent Alarm is also more varied than Bloc Party's early work indicated it might be, spanning edgy pop, atmospheric ballads, and angular, percussive tracks that are all served well by the album's big, layered production. The great single "Banquet" and even better opening track, "Like Eating Glass," put Bloc Party's heart-on-sleeve emotions in the service of tight, energetic songwriting that makes their earnestness a little easier to swallow. The gorgeous ballads also make the most of Bloc Party's emotional directness: "Blue Light," "This Modern Love," and "So Here We Are" are some of Silent Alarm's finest moments, with a tension and impact that show how powerful even their softest songs can be. As both the band and album's names imply, Silent Alarm is an overtly political album. Bloc Party fare better than many other bands that dip into that fray, but the results are still mixed: the well-intentioned no-blood-for-oil sentiments of "Price of Gas" are heavy-handed, but "Helicopter"'s Bush-bashing and the antiwar "Pioneers" ("We promised the world we'd tame it/What were we hoping for?") are relatively subtle, and work fairly well as political pop manifestos. As dynamic as Silent Alarm is, it's not perfect: Kele Okereke's yelpy vocals get a little grating on the less melodic songs, and the second half of the album doesn't quite sustain the momentum it had at the beginning, although the bonus remixes of "Plans" by Mogwai, and "Pioneers" by M83 help make up for this. Although it wouldn't hurt if there were more "party" (the celebratory kind, not the political one) in Silent Alarm, it's still a fine debut album with a lot of passion and polish; it's hard not to respect, if not fully embrace, the intensity and integrity of Bloc Party's music.
Rolling Stone - Barry Walters
London's Bloc Party achieve... manic bliss on nearly every track of their superb long-playing debut.
Entertainment Weekly - Timothy Gunatilaka
Alarm possesses that rare essence that will keep you swooning the morning after. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:
03/22/2005
Label:
Vice Records
UPC:
0075679381521
catalogNumber:
93815
Rank:
32412

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Silent Alarm 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm going to be straightforward here: this is already looking to be the album of the year. Yes, not even two months through the year, I feel comfortable saying this. Bloc Party has slowly built up an underground following through their stunning singles and EPs including Banquet, Little Thoughts, and She's Hearing Voices. Their album finally shows best what they're capable of, and that would be alot. The album opens with the track "Like Eating Glass", one wavy guitar note eventually coupled by what seems to be desparate drums. The song quickly sets the tone for the album: deep, layered, and contemplative. It is also here where lead singer Kele Okereke's lyrical talent is shown as he pelts out "I can't eat, I can't sleep/I can't sleep, I can't dream." The album continues with "Helicopter", a frantic surge of personal politics which of course, in indie musical form, is hardly decipherable, yet still somehow piercing. Next comes "Postivie Tension" written by Kele after watching Pop Idol (the British American Idol). He almost angrily sings "You're just as boring as everyone else/When you tut and you moan and you squeal and you squelch." "Blue Light" and "This Modern Love" show a softer side to Bloc Party. This is especially true on "This Modern Love" which might be the high point of this album. Russell and Kele's flowing guitar lines are accompanied by such observant and true lyrics, escpecially at the finish when Kele notes "Would you like to come over and kill some time?" This modern love, indeed. "Banquet" and "She's Hearing Voices" are rerecorded and included on the album as well. "She's Hearing Voices" feels much more spacious and dark esecially during the second chorus and guitar groove when Kele drones "She's got a red pill/blue pill." "Pioneers", a brilliant work of art where Kele screams "We promised the world we'd tame it/What were we hoping for?", "Price Of Gas", a criticism on the war no doubt, and "So Here We Are", a brilliant, soft song that one can't help but be touched by, start out the second half of the album. These are followed by the amazingly frantic "Luno", the touchingly tribal "Plans", and unbelievable epic "Compliments", to finish off the album. The work on this album lies not only in the lyrics, which are brilliant anyway, but also in the musical work. Bloc Party's album, "Silent Alarm", has managed to layer different guitar notes and lines and echoes and drum and bass lines like I have never heard before. Brilliance abounds on this album whether it be in Russell's thoughtful, brilliant, and well-placed guitars, Gordon's hidden yet song-supporting bass lines, or Matt Tong's absolutely stunning drum work. This album is simply amazing and truly must be heard to be believe. Buy it, now. I'm not kidding, either. Now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I THINK THIS ALBUM IS OK I JUST HAD TO DISAGREE WITH RANDAL, HE TRIED TO SOUND REALLY SMART BUT I BET HE DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MUSIC. SOME OF THE SONGS ON THIS CD ARE REALLY GOOD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been hearing about this band for some time now, and became slightly worried that they'd not live up to the hype. I was wrong. They reach levels of synergy that few bands could even understand and their precise timing leads me to think that they've been together for decades. Without getting into the specifics, trust me, if you're a fan of music, especially rock, you'll be treating yourself with this album here. By the way, they are on tour and the demand is growing so grab those tix. See you there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with Randall that too many bands these days are a product of marketing, but this is NOT one. The Bravery, maybe. But this album is fantastic. Moody vocals, tight drums, emotion, it is all here. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It is more than a single or two surrounded by fluff. Despite this band's commercial success lately, these guys have produced a solid album with only a few forgettable tracks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am quite leery about buying CDs from bands that get a lot of hype, especially from the UK because that means that any of your garden varity hipsters will be on it like white on rice. But after hearing their concert at the 9:30 Club webcast on NPR, I decided to give them another try and found that I simply can't put the CD down, my favorite song being POSITIVE TENSION. It doesn't exactly live up to the hype (nothing does), but taken out of that context and put on its own terms, it is a pretty good album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Songs grow on you after you listen to it a few times. All the songs are amazing, i highly recommend it...........
Guest More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this album from my friend, and read this is a really good album. I listen to the first 5 songs, and they all sounded amazing. After the 5th song, I was just like "This is starting to get really slow, but I'm gonna try to listen to it again some other time. So I think a fourstar is a fair rating. Thank You, bye bye.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great band with a punk/underground sound, start stop rhythms, and a unique vocalist. Definitely a good band. If you are British, then this is the band you MUST listen to in order to fit in. Right now, this band is to the Brit indie scene what Coldplay is to the that of Britpop.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Critics do go through phases. They miss early White Stripes and Hives, finally get hipped that the early 80s underground was an exciting time and place, and then belatedly start touting every new sordid mess of a record that comes shooting out of the pipeline. This is one of those sordid messes, waving a flag of acceptable influences but essentially nothing but pop dance radio tunes with no relation to the Hip 80s Revival which has given us so many great albums. Bloc Party is to Interpol and its ilk as the Bumblebee Song was to Nevermind. So, really, never mind.