is everything Bloc Party's
post-hiatus record should be. When the band split in 2009, the world was still in love with Intimacy
and in no way prepared for a sudden drop-off in Bloc Party records. There was no way of knowing what Bloc Party's next release would be like, especially after a two year break. In that amount of time Bloc Party could have cultivated an entirely different sound; they could have discovered alternative country and we wouldn't know until the release. Instead Bloc Party wrote a new album as the old band. Four
follows a previous formula, sounding more like A Weekend in the City
or Silent Alarm
. They channel a more original sound without seeming repetitious. Four
has all the elements it should and reminds us why we love Bloc Party in the first place.
The record is built on more of a traditional band sound, with more emphasis on the actual instruments rather than electronics, making it less like Intimacy
. However, those aspects are still evident of in the faster paced tracks like "Team A" and "Octopus". Overall Four
is reminiscent of their more punk records, which gives a sense of continuity and familiarity to the record. Four
finds the band working hard and sounding great. Kele's powerful falsetto really comes through in "Real Talk". The haunting track features some of his more delicate vocal work and the same decimating emotions of Bloc Party's old love songs. The same can be said for "Truth", which although it isn't a return to the Cure-esque sound (like "I Still Remember") still delivers similar results. These themes of truth and romance juxtapose those of deceit and violence in the album's deeper end.
The more disturbing side of Four
comes through in "Day Four", with the unsettlingly beautiful lyrics "I've felt death / Rising from me". Another similarly dark spot on the album, "3x3", features whispering then wailing vocals expressing some pretty violent under tones. Sonically Four
is already an album that comes at you full-speed with its teeth bared, a feeling which is only amplified by the gruesome lyrics. Bloc Party are typically sparse lyricists; one of their songs can be only sentences long when written out. This doesn't mean there isn't a depth to their work. The images of americana in "Octopus" and blood sport in "Coliseum" prove a lot can be shown in few words. Both temperaments result in emphatic songs, despite the different approaches.
By far my favorite song on Four
is "Kettling". The heavily distorted guitar and drums are both just addicting. With an catchy chorus of "we can feel it in our bones / the future's ours, yes it is", it is something of a counterbalance for the weight of other songs. Undeniably positive, the song also introduces a political element in the record. Kettling is a police tactic of crowd control, which was recently ruled legal after it's use during the 2009 G8 summit was questioned. Perhaps Bloc Party is joining the band-wagon and pitching in on everyone favorite topic: police brutality. Perhaps there's more to the line "we smash the window / popo don't fuck around / as their camera take pictures of us" than just belligerence. Bloc Party isn't an overly political band, but they have been known to voice opinions. With that in mind, listeners may reevaluate songs like "So He Begins to Lie", a song with more cameras and a narrator who is (as the title suggests) lying. Bloc Party could be challenging authority or just speaking in the third person, per usual. Whether the song is political or personal, "Kettling" features Four's
most intricate guitar work. The song is evidence that Bloc Party can still produce the sound they aimed to return to.
Check out their video for "Octopus":