Sunday, January 28, 2007

song of the week: the prayer

I’ve never rated Bloc Party, and to be honest I’m still not sure I do. I saw them supporting The Zutons a few years ago and thought the second support act, Eastern Lane of all people, were better (don’t laugh, in my defence I was at the front, on the bassist’s side, and I’d had a few beers, ok?) But I sincerely hope that Bloc Party’s debut single The Prayer, is a sign of things to come – if only because it sounds like they’ve been listening to TV on the Radio.

Strange then, that it begins like an Oompa Loompa track in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, all stomping hand-claps and battle-cry humming. Fortunately, we are rescued from Deep Roy-style boogie as soon as Kele Okereke’s earnest indie half-speaking, half-whining vocals begin – that’s not meant to sound quite as disparaging as it might. In fact, my only real complaint about his performance is that he sounds rather like a Star-in-their-Eyes Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio front man, and producer and animator of the YYYs fatabulouso Pin videoipso facto the closest thing to the Second Coming since Christopher Guest performing his final scene in This Is Spinal Tap).

Bloc Party have provided the definitive example of the whirring, clattering, slightly tinny sounds we’ve had from British guitar bands lately – but that stuff does little for me. Although (admittedly) it isn’t technically as good, I prefer the public-school jeering and bouncing of The Kaiser Chiefs to another chin-stroking set of scrawny boys in Converse high-tops. But my personal preferences surely pale in comparison since it was revealed that despite being ‘post-punk’ Bloc Party had never heard of Gang of Four until the NME sycophants started citing them as obvious references on debut alarm Silent Alarm. Scoff scoff.

Grrr –I realy must stop mocking the band currently occupying Song of the Week, because, honestly, The Prayer is excellent. After the determined opening hand-claps, tautness overtakes the menacing Oompa Loompa chanting, punctuated very nicely with tiny stabbing faux nu-rave keyboards and zombified drumming. A shattering, neurotic cymbal is then battered mercilessly through the lead into the chorus, as Bloc Party’s trademark collection of shivery guitars and percussion drunkenly stumble in, sounding like an indie 4x4 speeding through a joyride in Grand Theft Auto.

The post-Killers escalating keyboard in the chorus succeeds in pushing the semi-rave drum ‘n’ bass edge to the song into a slightly deranged kind of chamber music – casually spitting on Muse as it hurtles like a possessed evangelical into a series of muted choral chants and beeping, pipping guitar reverbs - the kind of accompanying sounds my Dad generally classifies as 'noise'. With its pushy, booming beat, and hysterically soaring chorus, this song is, indeed, A Prayer – an overreaching, egotistical, ambitious prayer from a trendy little indie band now seeking world domination. Fortunately, this desperate, sweaty foot-stomping prayer is so catchy, so brave, so memorable, and perhaps (unintentionally) the best example of how last year's nu-rave trend could actually spawn something interesting, that I hope Bloc Party’s prayers are indeed answered.

There’s also an altogether more personal reason for choosing this as song of the week.

Since the year flipped over to 2007, for the first time I’ve been chasing the whole new year/new you dream, and out of this usually mild and demure girl has emerged a clawing, spitting vixen with bloody ambition in her eyes. I don’t really like doing things I wholeheartedly disapprove of to get what I want, but even my parents have spent the weekend kicking me up the arse to ensure I do them - guilt-free. And as Bloc Party say; ‘Is it so wrong to want rewarding? To want more than is given to you?’


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