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Bloc Party

Transitioning from overhyped buzz generator to perpetual powerhouse ain't easy, even for figures as charismatic as the Party men, and on their third long-player, the strain shows. "Ares" is the sound of a band trying too hard, albeit with assists from some pretty interesting elements: screaming sirens, kinetic beats, and the lyrical declaration "Get out of the way or get fucked up." But for every distinctive track along the lines of the calm, confident "Signs," there's one that's structurally dunderheaded ("One Month Off") or unexpectedly generic ("Halo"). The mutability of lead singer Kele Okereke's vocals adds to the project's scattershot feel: On the jittery "Mercury" and the more ethereal (and more satisfying) "Ion Square," he sounds like different people. The results are more akin to inconsistency than Intimacy.

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