Bloc Party

Four

Written by: TAJ on 07/11/2012 22:48:20

A great amount of people, myself included, have been awaiting the fourth full length release from London darlings Bloc Party. A wait packed with expectations due to their solid discography, their ability to successfully take new directions for each album as well as the fact that they declared hiatus in 2009. Disputes over musical direction followed by singer Kele Okereke starting a solo project, sparked rumours of a permanent end of the band. But here it is, the album many thought would never be made. Curious to experience what Bloc Party had come up with this time I dived into "Four" and am now left with mixed feelings.

So what's new: Noticeably on the last two records electronic elements were used and songs composed in a more layer-based manner, while on "Four" the layers have been peeled off in favour of a back-to-basics rock sound comparable to "Silent Alarm". But contrasting the debut, where the stabby and catchy guitar riffs were delivered with explosive energy and speed, "Four" appears slower and has a more post-punk feel to it.

Opening track "So He Begins To Lie" kicks off by ensuring us Bloc Party still master the mixing of raw guitar riffs, off-beats, awkwardness and Okereke's yelping with a great result. Following "3x3" bursts in with a hard sound giving a slight hint to Alex Newport (orked with bands like At The Drive-In, Mars Volta ect.) who is their producer for this album. "Octopus" follows with a geniously warped riff, and "Kettling" switches between a loud solid wall of sound and slow drumming plus screeching guitar, which progresses into a happy guitar solo around the end providing an almost stadium rock vibe.

Also don’t forget "Real Talk" which sports a looping rather monotonous yet oddly hooking riff that extends throughout the whole song in a Gang Of Four-ish manner, and on which Okoreke's vocals are performed more as resigned speaking than actual singing in the verse. They then climb higher pitched tones during the chorus while being imbued with more emotion. These contrasts manage to conjure an atmosphere of indifference only to summon chills running down your spine the following moment.

But then the magic stops. As thunder from a clear sky the album has an abrupt change of heart and hurls you into what could have been an indie-rock compilation album composed by multiple artists. The decline starts with "Day Four" with its light rhythmic guitar play accompanied by lasting high pitch vocals contrasted by a calming background beat which could easily have been in a Temper Trap song. Then comes "Coliseum" that commences with a blues rock groove just to explode into a hard rock song halfway through and it is followed by "V.A.L.I.S.": A typical happy indie pop track closely resembling bands like Two Door Cinema Club.

By not being bad songs at all, each of these later songs just strike me as strangely misplaced on this album by differing in both feel and musical style from the album's five starting tracks as well as from each other. Despite them being pretty good songs individually, I don't find this blunderbuss progression working in favour of the album as the difference is large enough to make the songs desirable to listen at various occasions and or moods, but worse suited for an undisturbed full-length experience.

In any case "Four" undoubtedly proves that Bloc Party is still a fully potent band worthy of their nowadays rather widespread acknowledgement. Yet while this time they are great at digging up new ideas it might be the expectations have risen to their heads and made them spread their musical wings too wide, exceeding a single record’s threshold. So simply put, while it is not the greatest album from Bloc Party "Four" does however contain numerous great songs.

Download: Real Talk, So He Begins To Lie, Day Four, Kettling.
For The Fans Of: Gang of Four, Wire, The Temper Trap, Athlete.
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 20.08.2012
Frenchkiss

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