Four years since the release of the fairly controversial ‘Intimacy’, and after numerous false reports of Kele leaving the band, Bloc Party are back with their fourth album, um, ‘Four’.
Bloc Party describe ‘Four’ as “greater than the sum of its four parts”. Arrogant? Possibly. True? Yep. For early fans, this album will do nothing to reminisce on ‘Silent Alarm’. Yes, there are influential 2005-esque guitar riffs and pitter-patters, but this album shows a much more mature outfit willing to develop their musical ability with a versatile album full of twists and turns.
Opener ‘So He Begins To Lie’ is a heavy tale of woe and misfortune in a deep & dark setting, yet somewhat jovial atmosphere. ‘3×3’ follows on, almost in ode to ‘Intimacy’ with Kele’s falsetto and Russell’s up-tempo rhythm returning to that found on the band’s third record. Just when you think the band haven’t shaken off their third album sound, ‘Octopus’ arrives with the toe-tapping indie that made ‘Banquet’ so popular. Music has moved on, though, and so have the band. Almost-metal riffs are discovered in ‘Kettling’ and the Death From Above 1979-esque ‘We Are Not Good People’, proving the band have indeed moved on from (but not forgotten!) their 2005 post-punk-indie-hybrid which inspired so many.
‘Team A’ & ‘V.A.L.I.S’ could be placed on any of the three previous Bloc Party albums however, with the juxtaposition of a trippy pop song entwined with Kele’s dark “I’m gonna ruin your life” and the latter a distant scream for guidance, with “you gotta show me the way” cried over one of those intricate rhythms the quartet are so well-known for.
‘Coliseum’, though, is the pick of the record. Imagine listening to a slow Black Keys blues-rock infused ditty when out of nowhere Kele shrieks “the empire never ended” followed by a monster Lissack riff and cry of pain that Pulled Apart By Horses would be proud of. An irrational musical mismatch, but somehow, it just works.
Sure, Bloc Party have moved on, but this record shows the versatility and depth the band can go to in order to produce an album worthy of critical acclaim.
‘Four’ is a surprising, mesmerising and a little confusing return, but most definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
‘Four’ is released August 20 2012.