Poet Robert Browning's quote about the need for a person's reach to exceed their grasp is a sentiment that every band should have stencilled somewhere on their amps and flightcases. In Bloc Party's case it's definitely in their heads, if not on their hardware.
Having enchanted so many with their edgy and urgent debut 'Silent Alarm', the quartet have decided to do one of those career jumps where it sounds as if musicians have gone from album number one to album number three without worrying about the one in the middle.
If you're someone who listened to 'Silent Alarm's final track 'Promises' and thought that it contained signposts for where Bloc Party might go in the future, then 'A Weekend in the City' will confirm that theory quicker than you may have expected. This is a darker and braver collection and while the lyric "live the dream like the '80s never happened" is in reference to a character in a song, the longer you listen the more you start to wonder if it could it be aimed at some of the band's peers too.
As Bloc Party's music has become more complex their lyrics have become less abstract and 'A Weekend in the City' is a kind of concept album about modern life - complete with references to conformity, terrorism, isolation, drug-taking and promiscuity. The soundtrack for the trip to work it isn't, but it is one of those ever rarer records that gets you thinking.
While the power of opener 'Song for Clay (Disappear Here)' connects from the off, the rest of the album takes longer to connect; when it does it is often startling - the search for intimacy on 'Kreuzberg' results in one of the band's best songs and the personal memories of 'I Still Remember' and 'Sunday' are ultimately more affecting than the band's broadsides at society.
Occasionally there is the feeling that frontman Kele Okereke sounds too overwrought and is trying to cram in too much but 'A Weekend in the City' gets most things right. And while you may question the merits of a band singing the lyric "commerce dressed up as rebellion" and then selling ringtones of their songs, there's much joy to be had from the fact that there are no gems here like "all my life, there's panic in America". Even these days that still counts for something.