The album is dead. The internet and iPods have killed the art of the complete album. This is what I read from no shortage of whiny critics, responding to the evolution of music purchasing and file-sharing. This of course is a ridiculous claim. If anything, the evolution of how people listen to music has simply shown the gap between truly great albums, and those that may have been percieved great, but have since proven to have some amount of filler that perhaps was tolerated in past days. And while I of course can appreciate the artistic achievement of a cohesive and impressive full album, I don't quite understand the derision directed toward bands perceived as being "singles" bands rather than "album" bands. Certain bands write songs that just have more of an impact in short 3-minute bursts. I never have a desire to listen to a full Franz Ferdinand album in one setting, but when my iPod shuffles to one of their tracks, I always remember how great they are. This is not a bad thing. If anything, it's freeing to live in a time where I can quickly skip past the Police songs that weren't written by Sting, instead of the days of vinyl where people would endure the Copleand/Summers songs and pretend like they were good.
Bloc Party is a "singles" band. And a pretty good one. Silent Alarm is an album of 12 singles. There's not much ebb and flow between songs. No conceptual storytelling built throughout the sequencing. There are a lot of similarities from one track to the next, to the point where I usually forget which title belongs to which song. But none of it really matters. Each song bursts with enthusiasm and precision of a killer rhythm section, creating a British new wave / dance rock hybrid that grabs attention and refuses to let go. Or at least it refuses for the next 3 minutes.