I don’t know where history stands on Bloc Party. I was so sure by now there’d be the big revisit of their first album, 2005’s Silent Alarm, or at the very least they’d headline one of the big music festivals where–like with The Killers–everyone could pretend they were totally into them the whole time. No such thing has occurred: you won’t even hear “Banquet” on a movie trailer anymore. It could be that nobody really cared about this band. Not that they weren’t liked but just that nobody cared. I don’t even know why I care.
I revisited the album on a whim; in my current depressive and borderline suicidal state I did what I always do and reached for the warm, history-rewriting hands of nostalgia. Nostalgia can be euphoric in small doses for a person like me, who is always miserable or at least prone to misery. It says “hey remember when you were young and thought you were miserable, those were actually your best days.” I was in high school when Silent Alarm came out; I discovered it through a Simpsons message board I was a member of. “Banquet” was also a pretty big song around that time but for me it’s dull and easy. “Like Eating Glass” was the better single and perfect way to start the album; overflowing with controlled chaos and emotion.
I don’t really believe in the idea of “not knowing how good you have it”. It’s dismissive of very real problems that affect humans of any age. If you’re a kid prone to depression like I was it shouldn’t be treated as a phase; the kinda beautiful (but still dangerous) thing about nostalgia though is that it skips the everyday drudgery and just gives you the “best of” moments of your youth where there’s no barking from the dogs, no smog and momma cooks the breakfast with no hog. This allows you to find the comfortable pockets to build a home in. I don’t remember too many details about that time but I remember the music I listened to, including Bloc Party, and I remember getting lost in them and finding safety where there was none in my actual life. Plus the songs are really good: “This Modern Love”, “So Here We Are” and “Blue Light” are still the soundtrack to the low budget indie romance in my head. “Pioneers” is exhilarating and “Positive Tension” is still a goofy song but in a lovable way.
I really can’t fathom why there isn’t a bunch of millennial internet blog fawning over them. And I don’t mean in the easy clickbait retrospective way that every band, artist and album will eventually receive from eager writers that need quick ideas for content to produce for their media site of choice (yes that’s a subtweet but mostly at myself); I mean an actual, critical reevaluation. Kele Okereke’s unmistakable voice and emotionally vulnerable writing could be touching, thrilling and cheeky; dependent on what the song asked for. He wasn’t an amazing singer but his voice had a rhythm and groove to it that fit with the drum and bass heavy sound of the music. They were the rock band I would’ve wanted to be in when I was 16 –making the early “emotional club banger” before it became a true concept. But this is just what I feel and–to go back to the state of internet retrospectives– whatever argument I make in favor of you remembering or revisiting this great album is primarily based on my own emotional ties more than some reasoned argument about where it stands against the other albums like it around that time such as Is This It? or Turn On The Bright Lights. Most of the nostalgia writing on the internet is based on this same thing, a bunch of adults remembering the things that made them happy as kids and churning out a quick thousand words on it. I get it –who doesn’t want to believe a personal favorite means something more important to the culture. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it though. In my darkest mental moments, I turned to a 11 year old album most people probably forgot about and found a brief moment of solace. When the things you love stand your own personal test of time can be more important than anything.
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