Difficult second album? Not a chance.
Although the Futureheads got an early start on the returning class of 2005, their return was overlooked in a blink and you've missed it type of way, so it now seems that the real returns of that eras breakthrough bands are starting to happen. Radio 1 may be constantly creaming themselves at the caterwauling of the Kaiser Chiefs and their dreadful 'Ruby' chorus but Bloc Party, as they have done before, seem to have quietly snuck up on everyone.
Comeback single 'The Prayer' wasn't a bombastic and swaggering return but it was certainly a slow-burner and only now is its class starting to shine through. The cold bleeps and whirring grabbed the attention at first but soon, the plaintive pleas that everyone probably goes through in a weekend ritual starts to tie the track together and the repeating drums bring a close to the song, it stands as a good introduction to the album.
In the press, the band have been labelling the album as their tale of a weekend and something that their fans and friends over the world would be able to emphasise with and there are moments of personal feeling and emotion coming through. Tales of young love and the rush of excitement that surrounds it are peppered throughout the record, no more so than on 'I Still Remember' which revels in looking back on great days and thinking of how it could be better. Compared to the first album, this type of track shows the band really opening up and shows a warmer side to them that makes it easier to pentrate. Perhaps their media and interview stance made the band seem stand-offish and distant but 'A Weekend In The City' highlights some moments of vulnerability that opens them up.
However, there is a dark and paranoid feeling to some of the tracks; with the band freely admitting that the London bombings coupled to friends being attacked has infused the record with an air of uncertainty and and at times aggression, almost as if its time to kick back against the terrors that are crushing in on us nowadays.
As mentioned earlier, it seems like a different band than from the first album. Sure the pieces are all in, the way that Kele's vocals go from soft whisper to full-on anthem belter in the blink of an eye is still there and the jabbing guitar riffs and runs don't deviate far from 'Silent Alarm' but it sits together a lot better. The first album, for all its praise and sales, left this writer a bit cold, almost as if it was an art-school project, everything was there in the right places but it was too clinical or made for that specific purpose, as opposed to the album that the band had to make.
That accusation can't be levelled at Bloc Party this time around. There may be a lack of commerciality to the record but collectively, it sits together brilliantly and every new listen unfolds something new to marvel or enjoy. It wouldn't be wise to make every weekend like the one that allegedly happens in this album but every once in a while, it's the sort of thing that really lets you know you are alive.