January 21, 2007 / 10:30 AM / 13 years ago

UK rockers Bloc Party seeking U.S. breakthrough

NEW YORK (Billboard) - After winning over U.S. hipsters with its critically acclaimed 2005 debut “Silent Alarm,” U.K. rock act Bloc Party is now aiming for mainstream success.

Tony Kele Okereke from the British band Bloc Party performs during the Mercury Music Prize awards in central London, September 6, 2005. After winning over U.S. hipsters with its critically acclaimed 2005 debut "Silent Alarm," the band is now aiming for mainstream success. REUTERS/Mike Finn-Kelcey

The group’s second outing, “A Weekend in the City,” comes out February 6 via Atlantic Records, preceded by two radio singles, “The Prayer” and “I Still Remember.”

The group toned down the frenetic feel of its debut, which sold almost one million copies worldwide and drew comparisons to the jerky post-punk of Gang of Four and late-period Blur.

“A Weekend in the City,” particularly on its back half, is dominated by slower, richly textured songs that stretch into pop/rock territory.

“It’s got everything that makes a Coldplay song, plus more,” bassist Gordon Moakes says of the band’s more introspective material. “It has a lush sound without being too syrupy.”

It also features much more direct vocals from frontman Kele Okereke, who makes a big leap as a songwriter and lyricist on this loose song cycle that thematically mirrors its title.

“I wanted to make something that could be more easily understood, without dumbing it down,” Okereke says.

The lineup is rounded out by guitarist Russell Lissack and drummer Matt Tong, who is recovering from a collapsed lung that forced the group to give up its plum opening slot on a tour with Panic! at the Disco last November.

With little radio support, “Silent Alarm” sold more than 280,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Over 18 months, the band went from playing small clubs to 6,000-plus-seat amphitheaters.

Tong has been cleared to resume playing when Bloc Party starts U.K. promotional performances in January. The band will return to the United States for a headlining tour in March and will swing through America three more times by the end of 2007.


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