That Time Of Year Again
For a music fan, years are synonymous with styles. With emotions. With certain albums. I think back to 2003, my head spins with The Notwist's hypnotic beats, The Flaming Lips' certain-shade-of-dementia. I think about 2004 and I think about The Arcade Fire and winter.
I'll have a tough time, in the future, recalling just a single album from this busy, busy year, but one will (and has) stood the test of repeated listening to come out on top of My Year's Best List:
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
I once, famously, publicly, called this album "overrated." It was a knee-jerk reaction, from the hordes of praising press and a single, passive, listening. It took a few weeks, but I retracted my position, much to my embarrassment, and began to embrace the brilliant layers of musical bliss herein enclosed. It's a long album, full of highs and lows, with a centralized political theme and a strong sense of adventure.
From love stories to elaborate metaphors to realistic eulogies of the modern world, Bloc Party's frontman and lyricist, Kele Okereke, has crafted an impressive collection of angry, modernist, poetry that speaks volumes about the world we live in, coincidentally halfway through this "transition" decade. Musically, Bloc Party is as indie as The Arcade Fire, mashing together styles from disparate sources and creating a unique, if not wholly original, sound. They have punk roots, metal tendencies, and rock sensibilities, brit-pop rhythms and grunge guitars, all with a dash of arena rock.
Individually, all the musicians shine. The drumming is ace-perfect, perfect syncopation like the sound of an adrenaline rush. Guitars screech and scream and give Interpol a real run for their money. Bass licks stand out, oftentimes forming a solid post-punk base that runs through the whole album.
Like so much of what we call "great," Bloc Party's appeal is personal. Their politics appeal to me. Their chopped up sound tickles me, reminds me of the old days of hair metal and ambitious rock epics. They embody a lot of the frustration and anger associated with people living in a world run by morons and sycophants. More simply, they are flashes of memories while driving, of being in a car with loved ones or rocking out on the way to work while driving by an airport while the song "Price of Gas" blares.
Silent Alarm is important work at a time when art is as important as air.