Friday, 17 August 2012

REVIEW: Bloc Party - Four - listen

Bloc Party seem to be one of those bands who released a fine debut album in the mid noughties and have struggled to match it ever since. Their last album, 2008's 'Intimacy' saw Kele Okereke leading the group further towards more electronic sounds, something which probably caused a creative divide within the group, followed by the frontman embarked on a solo career with an album that was far removed from typical indie rock. So it comes as a welcome relief that the guitars are back, and turned up louder than ever before. It's surprising that after four years and reports that the band were prepared to make a fourth album without Okereke's help, these four musicians sound united and together once again. 

Opener 'Then He Begins To Lie' is a dramatic and darkly atmospheric introduction to the album with Placebo guitars, before '3x3' reveals a creeping, almost gothic quality, topped with lashings of thick bass. The snakey lead single 'Octopus' succeeds in its back to basics approach, an infectious slice of brilliance that will please fans of their early work with its urgent rhythms and cut-up guitar FX, while 'Real Talk' is more laid back, almost like an old Cure b side with a Radiohead chorus. 'Kettling' pushes the record back in to hard rock territory, with heaving guitars reminiscent of Feeder, while the heartfelt delicacy of 'Day Four' plays home to some gorgeous Smiths-esque guitars and suitably plaintive vocals. 

'Colisium' begins with a stubborn Beck-like intro, before exploding into pacy riffage that suggests they may have learned some tricks from Muse and Queens Of The Stone Age. 'V.A.L.I.S' is another album highlight that once again rekindles that old vibe and harks back to the debut album's catchy post-punk sounds, as does the clippy guitar effects and energetic paranoia of 'Team A'. Tracks such as these may be a return to the sound they made it big with eight years ago, but not once does any of it seem like a step backwards. 'Truth' is another stand out track and comes armed with nicely emotive pop melodies, begging to be released as a single, before 'The Healing' lays down more rippling Cure-like atmospherics. The closing 'We Are Not Good People' pairs an excited metal riff with furiously bashed drums, saving the album's heaviest moment till the end. 

At 40 minutes long 'Four' doesn't outstay its welcome, and overall it represents a more vital album than the previous two. It does fall short of matching 'Silent Alarm' in terms of quality, but it's the closest they've come yet. It's an album that takes a few plays to sink in, and leaning towards a harder edged rock sound is a brave move, but there's no doubting that Bloc Party sound revitalised, re-energised and like they've found their way back on to the path again. 7.9

Bloc Party - Four by blocparty

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