Thursday, January 24, 2008

Physics, Silent Alarm, and Dancing

My new physics teacher was playing a bit of Bloc Party's Silent Alarm when I entered physics class today. Which reminded me that the argument that this blog came out of had to do with whether Jenny Lewis was, to paraphrase, as mainstream as Bloc Party.

Nonetheless, I had no choice but to go back and relisten to Silent Alarm when I got home. I've realized that I've neglected and underrated this record - perhaps because it's an example of the stuff they call top 40 in Britain.

Though the tempos show little variation and the drums sound undoubtably processed and manufactured (thanks, Protools!) there are some great songs. To say it hearkens back to British post-punk like Wire and Gang of Four is overstatement - even though you can dance to it (which is probably the only thing you can and should do with this record) it sounds contemporary rather than retro.

On the topic of what we can and can't dance to, what about songs that you could dance to but, because of the morbid subject matter - or perhaps simply because you'd be the only person on the dance floor - you really shouldn't dance to?
Much of the Arcade Fire's stuff falls under this heading.
As does a lot of Wire's stuff, especially on Pink Flag.
The same goes to The Fall - you'd look rather awkward dancing to their beats.
There are also lots of danceable post-rock passages - the end of "Sleep" on Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven, for example. But who'd want to sit through the buildup to the climax?

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