I’ll probably post some kind of response to this whole “Is Bol a white guy?” controversy that was raging all day while I was at work some time tomorrow (i.e. later on today). Also, my bad about reviewing another one of these white groups that only white people know about (at least according to BHTMD), but it actually came down between this and A Healthy Distrust by Sage Francis and I figured this was way blacker.
In fact, the lead singer in this group is actually a black guy, even though he pretty much sounds like a white guy.
Like Eating Glass
The first thing you notice right off about this band is that it has a fucking sick rhythm section. The drummer, in particular, plays like a thousand notes a minute in a way that completely compliments the other instruments (including the singer) where you might expect him to work against them.
If there’s a downside to any of this, it’s that this shit is almost too perfect. For example, this song’s completely and utterly precise stops and starts sound more like the work of really good software than really good musicians.
And then there’s the fact that I’m not really sure how good all of these songs actually are. Some of these songs (not so much this one) I feel are just OK, but the thing is, this band plays the motherfucking shit out of them.
Even though I’ve never heard it anywhere, I’ve read that this is the album’s big single. It’s easily the most Franz Ferdinand-sounding shit on here, which on the one hand is pretty smart, but on the other hand is pretty dumb.
I mean, it’s a good idea in the sense that regardless of what you think about that album (and I think pretty much everybody liked it), that shit sold. But to me this band is so much better than just putting on their best Franz imitation. If anything, I think “Like Eating Glass” should have been their big single.
She’s Hearing Voices
This song is probably the best example yet of my “These really aren’t the best songs argument.” Because this one really isn’t. I don’t even know how much I like the playing on this.
This Modern Love
On the other hand, I do kinda like this one. It doesn’t really play up a lot of their really obvious strengths (i.e. there’s no huge drum part or opportunities for the lead singer to wail like a bitch), but it does have a rather interesting melody and some nice harmonies once the beat kicks in about half way through.
This, on the other hand, is a lot more typical of the Bloc Party sound. Like a lot of these songs, it takes a U2-like sense of epicness, especially in the chorus. I haven’t really had a chance to focus on what they’re actually talking about.
Price of Gasoline
This one is obviously one of their overtly political numbers. I found it to be a bit too obvious though and not too interesting musically, compared to a lot of these other songs.
So Here We Are
Where as most of these songs are heavy on the pounding beats and wailing vocals, a few of these songs are actually pretty mellowed out. What’s interesting is that their “mellow” songs are as good if not better than their more rocking shit. This is probably my favorite of them.
On the other hand, I thought this was just OK as far as the album’s faster numbers are concerned. It’s aiight, but obviously buried in the second half for a reason.
Here’s another good example of Bloc Party in their mellowed out mode. I don’t like this one as much as “So Here We Are,” but it’s pretty good. It’s got more of a Robert Smith feel to it, especially when the weird synths kick in during the chorus.
This last track ends the album (or at least the original part of it) on a rather strong point, which is always cool. This kind of reminds me of that one Radiohead song. You know the one.
Silly Techno Remixes
The US version of this also comes with silly techno remixes of three of the album’s tracks tacked onto the end of it.
So yeah, Bloc Party is a really, really talented group, but this isn’t a really, really good album like I’ve been hearing people say. I thought maybe 3 or 4 songs on this really were fucking incredible, but some other ones were too obviously borrowing from other groups’ formulas and others were just kinda boring. Still, if they could create an entire album as compelling as the very best moments on here, they’d have the proverbial best shit ever.
Best Tracks: “Like Eating Glass” and “So Here We Are”
originally published April 12, 2005 on ByronCrawford.com.