Bloc Party: "A Weekend in the City"
Producers: Jacknife Lee
Vice/Atlantic
Release Date: Feb. 6

U.K. rock act Bloc Party follow up its buzzy 2005 debut by scaling back the nervous guitar riffs and enlisting the help of U2 producer Jacknife Lee in a bid for mass appeal. This time the quartet looks to its flair for Britpop balladry -- think "Blue Light" and "This Modern Love" from "Silent Alarm" -- as the blueprint. The nostalgic first single, "I Still Remember," is a slightly faster version of the model. And the overall result is a moody sophomore work long on ambition. Frontman/lyricist Kele Okere actually constructed the album as a loose song-cycle using the album title as the theme. That's a bit of a stretch -- especially on what is ultimately an awkwardly paced, hit-and-miss affair. But it has its moments, especially the jittery rocker "Waiting for the 7.18" and the sweet hangover ballad "Sunday." Not the wildest weekend ever, but a respectable one. --Brian Garrity