After nearly four years of waiting, Bloc Party makes their triumphant return from solo projects with the release of Four, an album that largely redeems the band from the disappointing Intimacy. The stylistic quirks and eclectic nature of the band’s music are still largely intact as they deliver a broad range of sub-genres in this latest dose of enjoyable indie rock. Like their memorable debut album Silent Alarm, it’s impossible to know what to expect from track to track, as Bloc Party revels in giving fans a taste of their full musical arsenal; from unleashing pure, raw punk power to slowing things down for some capably affecting ballads, this album does not disappoint. However, while most of the band’s major strengths return for another winning album, this is without a doubt a heavier and reinvigorated band. The pace of Four is upbeat, yet some songs allow the band’s guitarist to throw down some of their heaviest riffs yet. Then again, this is still Bloc Party, highlighted by an undeniably addictive Brit-infused brand of music, beginning with lead singer Kele Okereke. Okereke delivers his characteristically melodious drawl to dominate each track, made only more endearing by his delightful British accent. But Okereke’s unique elocution isn’t what steals the show. Rather, it’s the astute, creative and sedating guitar riffs of Russell Lissack, which are combined with Matt Tong’s rhythmic drumming, and Gordon Moakes’ grungy bass and Okereke’s rhythm guitar to craft some truly groovy and infectious tunes. This style of indie rock may be a tad off the beaten path, but there’s no question that Bloc Party is back and more than deserving of all the attention that entails.
“Real Talk” follows the wacky but charming single “Octopus” with the album’s first reprieve from its heavier pace. While not quite infringing on ballad territory, the calm and brilliant guitar hook of “Real Talk” sound like something right out of a Los Lonely Boys’ single. The addition of the uptempo banjo only lends to this song’s lasting appeal, which is enhanced even further by perfectly high-pitched notes from Okereke. The pace never picks up and the intensity of Four is nowhere to be found here, but this song displays Bloc Party’s prolific skill as composers.
Like the dynamic closer “We’re Not Good People,” “Kettling” is bursting with raw rock power as Lissack’s heavy guitar chugging dominates the proceedings for a soulful and head-nodding experience. The deafening guitar riffs team up with Okereke’s defiant declarations of resistance to the institution: “Because they can’t stop this / We can feel it in our bones / The future’s ours, yes it is / We can feel it in our bones.” Between this song’s confidently rebellious themes to the hard-hitting guitar riffs and drumming that embodies them (including one exhilarating solo), “Kettling” emerges as the best song on Four.
Much like “This Modern Love” stole the show on Silent Alarm with its calming atmosphere, emotive guitars and Okereke’s sincere vocals, “Day Four” captivates with a heartfelt ballad with a hopeful and contemplative mood. Tong sets the pace and Okereke delivers soft vocals, but the background guitar patterns weave and intricate tale of their own worth paying the most attention to, especially during the relaxing and spellbinding bridge that fades the song out.
With the release of Four, Bloc Party returns with new energy and verve, refining their sound to produce a slightly heavier album worth the four-year wait. From the country twang and eventual raw punk power of “Coliseum” to the sophisticated background vocals and high-pitched swoon of Okereke’s voice on “Truth,” Bloc Party displays an artistic attention to detail while retaining their trademark quirkiness. The irregularities of this band’s style and sound might not be a surmountable obstacle for some, but for fans of bands like Pin Me Down, Arctic Monkeys, Editors, Foals, The Hives, The Vaccines, Interpol, The XX, and Maximo Park will certainly find something to enjoy with this long-overdue release. Between Okereke’s lovably peculiar intonation, some prolifically relaxing guitar schemes and numerous heavy, gritty guitar- and bass-chugging sections, Four is a unique but familiar Bloc Party experience worth your attention.
Final Score: 8/10
Rank: 2nd (four total albums)
- So He Begins To Lie
- Real Talk
- Day Four
- Team A
- The Healing
- We’re Not Good People