How do you follow a million- selling debut effort that music mag NME named "Album of the Year"? If you're Bloc Party, maybe you throw in some moodier moments and send out for strings on a couple of tracks without abandoning your roots in twitchy, postpunk angularity. And, well, it couldn't hurt to tie the songs together with some sort of unifying concept which the band has done here nicely, capturing the soulless grind of modern living to the beat of drummer Matt Tong's hyperactive high hat. As a melancholy organ sighs on the lead-off track, "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)," lead singer Kele Okereke sets the stage for what's to come with the line "I am trying to be heroic in an age of modernity." But then the drums kick in, and, suddenly, he's eating foie gras "with complete disdain" and kissing girls but feeling nothing. Ten songs later, on the stunning "SRXT," Okereke signs off with a sigh, singing, "Tell my mother I am sorry and I loved her." As snapshots of alienation and dread from post-jolly old England go, it can't compare to Damon Albarn's latest masterpiece. But for a UK buzz band's second album, well, you'd hate to be an Arctic Monkey at the moment.
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