Ayo Jegede
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June 28, 2005
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Silent Alarm Silent Alarm
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Bloc Party
Silent Alarm

every so often the mass of critical review in music lurches ever forcefully to a singularly agreed point of approval, bestowing a rare collective laurel upon the artist. we've seen this curious triangulation of omnipresent voices before, showering acclaim with great rapture upon And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, declaring James Murphy the messianic Dance Punk king who came down from the clouds to 'Yr City's a Sucker.' behold as only the most Intelligent IDM is handed this award, telling you that the band's greatness is, by argument ad populem, rendered objectively so. but this isn't about the aforementioned phenomenon, it's about the idiotic rejection of it.

Apparently ... embracing the fact that you're formulaic garners you stellar reviews and numerical ratings higher than a classic like In The Aeroplane Over the Sea got when it first came out, among a grand swath of other albums pegged for grand ideas and virtuosi playing. One can only hope this infiltration remakes the perpetrators. That is to say, perhaps the idea of an "indie" band in the mainstream will throw the indie ethics into the mainstream thought processes. Until then, the creative apex, once burgeoning, continues to shrink substantially.

so goes the closing salvo of a Tiny Mix Tapes article disclosing why Bloc Party's Silent Alarm wasn't reviewed: the critical ocean, once dedicated to the purity of the musicianship, is now stagnant, polluted courtesy of a grand relaxation of sorts. the article haughtily declares the site's abstinence from the Bloc Party clusterfuck, electing instead to boo its accomplices while keeping a straight face. well i call bullshit. TMT is as big of an indie hype machine as you'd expect, keeping alive the Snob IndustryTM at just about every other juncture with healthy energy. by rejecting Silent Alarm, all they've done is swum in the opposite direction of the very cesspool they upbraid.

Silent Alarm is quite good because the music is good, ok? not because V2 paid off the NME reviewers or the writers of Pitchfork, Stylus, and Coke Machine Glow use it as fodder for some furtively planned critical circle jerk. this album will not adulterate your critical constitution, it will not make you a benighted sycophant who picks up albums like these, The Futureheads', or Kaiser Chiefs' because, "damn dude, they have accents!" Silent Alarm is immaculately executed Indie Rock and a very promising opening statement. all songs on it are outstanding and the balance elevates the genre's ceiling. i mean, am i one of the few people who actually opened their cd case without considering who was looking?

the album's most obvious feature is precisely its limitations: Bloc Party play a fundamental Indie Rock, one not readily influenced by very many outlying genres. opener 'Like Eating Glass' encapsulates the album's philosophy, which is one of immediate, unobstructed songs. Matt Tong's drumming--outstanding throughout--fills the space in the lead-up but is pulled back for the chorus, where guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist Gordon Moakes and lead singer Kele Okereke clash with none overpowering the other. such balance is the fundamental route they use and, yes, some may call it rudimentary or cheap, but that would negate the band's stellar execution of it, one that may be in place in every song but is permutated so that no song sounds like the other.

a couple times they have to reach past their confines to enact their vision like on 'So Here We Are,' the voices of the chorus distorted so as to roam from speaker to speaker or the bits of reverb on 'Luno.' but this is still a really, really good Indie Rock record filled with propulsive anthems like 'The Pioneers,' 'Price of Gasoline,' and 'Helicopter.' these guys are impeccably catchy and canny and you'll absolutely like what you hear. or, maybe you won't and will instead judge them from the corner, arms folded tightly, deploring the ubiquitous fanfaronade offered them. so be it homes, that's your loss. who knows, maybe you won't like the album and maybe you'll even hate it. far be it from me to say what tones your ear may appreciate. just note that Silent Alarm merits this score because of what it sounds like, not what others say it is (or isn't).

Release date: March 22, 2005
Label: Vice
Rating: 9.1 / 10

[RMR]