Block party without the "k"

Now Playing - Album: The Silent Alarm / Band: Bloc Party

Finally, I’ve got this album right where I want it. It took an impulsive pit stop at Amoeba Music, where some unknown force overtook my delicate sense of financial responsibility (seven CDs purchased. Some might say I have a problem, especially since I was scurrying around the soul, pop/rock, new release, oldies sections, up and down the indie hipster fashion runways like I was on a scavenger hunt for the meaning of life. But I didn’t really want that money in the first place. On Friday at work I was thinking to myself, “I’m here today for the right to purchase new music.”), but the CD is safely spinning here in my apartment, making me very happy.

Head is bobbing, unexpected beat changeups making me wish I could type in time with the funk punk ingredients, so that my excitement about this music could take on a physical form that transcends what’s going on in whatever euphoric part of my brain responds to good music and beams it out to my entire body’s nerve network. And now, five tracks in, they’re suddenly changing up to this soaring indie ballad-turned drum-electric guitar finger-picking xylophone-laden extravaganza. Okay, I’m listening to that one again because it was only 2 minutes long = half a song.

It’s about time I gave in to the Bloc Party hype. This is no slow-moving, artsy, orchestral, broody, lovesick concept album. Musically, it’s as bouncy and fun and danceable as our late-80s SE 30th Street bike parade potluck block parties could never be (I have a sudden flashback of the “Tequila!” song over someone’s outdoor stereo, and with it, unfortunately, a flashback of Pee-Wee Herman sitting on his talking chair, Cherry). Fun things about this album, in no particular order: (1) 14 songs and no filler. (2) Lead singer sounds like Damon Albarn and Joe Strummer (3) Definitely rocks Franz Ferdinand back into the assassinated archduke obscurity (4) Packed tight like President Bush’s personal security staff, no Lee Harvey left unturned. (4.5) The most fascinating dynamic musically is happening between the drums and the bass. It’s like a complex relationship with issues but undeniable compatibility. (5) There’s a Parental Advisory Explicit Content sticker on the label. That’s right. As a warm welcome for incoming FCC chief and former Bush campaign stooge Kevin J. Martin, here you have some raw anarchy in the U.K. The Bloc Party might as well be the beginning of the indecently repackaged British Invasion renaissance, so you’d better step off because they could be bigger than Jesus. And for all you mums and moms and dads, you can’t really tell what they’re saying anyway unless you look up the lyrics (I got a “Hey!” or two, and that was a stretch). Your kids won’t take the time to do this. Like me (before I actually read the lyrics, but the words to first track, "Like Eating Glass" are probably deliciously uplifting), they’re just going to dance, so no worries. And as long as I’ve got you here, I’ve got to commend you on your music influencing skills. You could have damned them to listen to Ashlee Simpson and Raffi, but here they are with better music taste than I could have hoped for at their age.

For the past month I’ve been convincing myself that this album was going to be as disappointing and overrated as a cup of tea with no biscuits. Too much coke laced in your expectations can kill an album like a bloody nose. I choose to downplay the force of hype. After all, those who create it are responding to this music before it even becomes available for me to buy. Why should they have the advantage of telling me what to think about it in such a sensational, propaganda-esque way? I prefer to find out right now, on my own, or with someone else who is having a similar reaction and we’re sitting there looking at each other with the shared glee effect. The hype can’t steal this moment from me, this one-time-only virgin album listen moment.

This impromptu interpretation does no justice to the sheer impact this album is having on me right now, but in the spirit of capturing this emotional audio moment as accurately as I can, an experiment, getting fucked by this music for the first time. But calling it orgasmic would be oversimplifying it. Drugs can have that mind-body sync collision, but you’re out of control. If you think about the way books, movies, art, people, ideas impact you when you least expect them, perhaps at the very moment you were meant to experience them, I might argue that the feeling can get you high in such a way that you’re completely in control, but the high still affects everything you do. It just may not be intense all at once but drawn out over long periods of time. It’s like the way OxyContin abusers crush and snort/inject the pill to get that instant high, while as a pain reliever, the medicine is spread out over hours, time releasing the pain relief.

On that high note, I’m going to publish this unfinished and go listen to this album on full blast in the car, on my way to a bar where I really hope this album is playing.



Blogger Ross Douglas said...

Definitely an album I'd recommend as well.

"Pioneers" is a track that knocks Franz Ferdinand back at the door of the nightclub and tells them to go back to art school and concentrate on drawing pictures instead of attempting to re-invent that which isn't in need of re-invention.

5:58 PM  

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