If you happen to see Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke today, be sure to give him a high-five and a cookie, because today he turns 28 years old. The group is currently on a U.K. tour they have dubbed "Bloctober" in support of their latest albums Intimacy (which was recorded and released online as a surprise last year) and Intimacy Remixed. The group first picked up attention when their debut album Silent Alarm garnered rave reviews and the single "Helicopter" made a huge impact on the U.K. charts. They managed to blend big, hook-filled arena rock with smart dance beats and a willingness to experiment. At the center of their sound is Okereke's voice, which carries a thick London accent and manages to be both sweet and sharp at the same time.
Though Silent Alarm remains their signature album, the follow-up, A Weekend in the City, remains one of the most underrated records of the decade. Full of big riffs and bigger ideas, it's a sorta-concept album about urban living in the 21st century, and along the way Okereke makes insightful observations about relationships, loneliness, political strife, technology and the novels of Bret Easton Ellis. It's got some great tunes ("Song for Clay (Disappear Here)" is up there with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "London Calling" as one of the greatest opening album tracks of all time), and even had a great video to accompany the first single. "The Prayer" encompasses everything that is great and interesting about Bloc Party. It's spastic and festive, sure, but there are also plenty of ideas to consider in between the fits of noise.