Bloc Party

Bloc Party [EP]

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After the success of Franz Ferdinand, the floodgates were opened for a slew of similarly angular-yet-poppy British bands having their way with new wave, post-punk, and indie idioms. Along with the Futureheads, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, and Art Brut, Bloc Party were among the first to make a splash in the States with their self-titled EP, a collection of their She's Hearing Voices and Banquet/Staying Fat singles. The EP collects the singles in reverse chronological order, which both helps and hurts the band: "Banquet" itself is a great single that has one foot in the post-punk/dance-punk revival and the other in short, sharp Britpop; singer Kele Okereke's London yelp sounds uncannily like Damon Albarn's when he shouts "so overrated!" The song is the best thing the band has done in its young career and a terrific opening track for the EP, but it also means that the rest of Bloc Party goes downhill from there, albeit relatively slightly. "Staying Fat" is slightly less immediate than "Banquet" but still pretty poppy, driven along by insistent, prickly guitars. The songs that come from She's Hearing Voices are longer, less tuneful and more indebted to the band's influences: "She's Hearing Voices" is the band's most dance-punk moment; "The Marshals Are Dead" has some fun, ping-ponging guitar interplay, and the band's love of the Pixies can be heard in the track's spiky, splattery solos; and "The Answer" manages to be shouty and melodic but not especially catchy. These songs were a clear first step for the band, since "Banquet" and "Staying Fat" show that they're learning how to craft their own style out of the sounds they love. The band's tightly wound music may not be stunningly original, but it is a lot of fun, and Bloc Party is a very promising beginning.

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