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Volume 70, Issue 113, Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Life & Arts

'Silent Alarm' sounds off with plenty of hits

By Melissa Barrera
The Daily Cougar

New on store shelves Tuesday was Bloc Party's first full-length album, Silent Alarm. With all the buzz that has surrounded the band lately, one would expect the album to be a treasure trove of hits. Lucky for us, it is.

From start to finish, this quartet of rockers has the Midas touch, turning music from several varied genres into a cohesive whole for an incredible album. In Silent Alarm, Bloc Party is able to effectively stretch the dance-punk style many critics have pinned them for, cleverly interlacing music from electronica to emo.

While the album opens on a calm note, by the second track, "Helicopter," listeners realize they're in for a bumpy ride of extremely varied tunes. The song is pumped full of adrenaline-driven guitar licks and sarcastic attitude. 

Lead singer Kele Okereke extends this vibe into "Positive Tension" when he mocks, "He said you're just as boring as everyone else / When you tut and you moan and you squeal and you squelch." Just when it seems the band has simply reincarnated the drum-backed taunts of Romeo Void (think "Never Say Never"), the song breaks into a raw rock 'n' roll guitar solo.

Hidden in the mosaic of sundry tracks, listeners can trace a constant theme that binds the album. Influences from Gang of Four and the moody attitude of Joy Division are unmistakable without being blatant. Although Okereke's voice can sound at times exactly like Morrisey or Robert Smith, on Silent Alarm he showcases a vocal range that sways everywhere from mellow lullabies to the extraterrestrial screeches of "She's Hearing Voices."

The latest single off the album, "Banquet," dares listeners to sit still. A dance hit to put all other dance-punk to shame, "Banquet" has an undeniable catch that will be stuck in the heads of listeners for days. When Okereke chants, "She's got such a dirty mind / And it never ever stops / And you don't taste like her / And you never ever will," fans will fall in love with that heavenly, accented voice.

"Price of Gasoline" has scattered ranting and rhythmic claps that sound at times as left-field as The Chinese Stars. But after about a dozen style changes, it's evident that Bloc Party carries much more talent than the bands the press tends to lump them with.

"Luno" is fast-paced, dark and dramatic. While Okereke pours his heart out, bleeding pain and anger onto the track, guitarist Russell Lissack plays catch-up with his steady, intense chords. 

To end the album, the British boys from Bloc Party try their hand at a depressed, airy track in "Compliments." With spots of electronic riffs and moody vocals, the band pulls off a spacey, Radiohead-esque song that reveals yet another facet of the band's skill.

On Silent Alarm, every track stands independent, each an intricate part of the album, which could very well become the best of 2005.

Bloc Party

Silent Alarm

Vice Records

Verdict: With sounds that vary from post-punk to modern alternative, Silent Alarm sounds like a "Greatest Hits" compilation that spans two decades.

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