After the release of Intimacy in 2008, we saw Bloc Party at what could arguably be their best. The album demonstrated a good understanding of what the band knew they were capable of, and seemed to impress a kind of maturity that wasn’t so much present on Silent Alarm. After Intimacy, I was eager to see how the band would progress and see where their new found understanding would take them. However, it led to a hiatus in 2009, which left me with a sour feeling.
So in comes 2012, and the announcement of a new Bloc Party album. I couldn’t have been more excited. The year was already riddled with anouncements of new upcoming albums (Babel by Mumford and Sons, The 2nd Law by Muse and Battle Born by The Killers). Four by Bloc Party was becoming one of my most anticipated, so the first chance I got to listen to the album, I did.
To begin with though, It’d be important to mention the first song heard from Four, which was their leading single Octopus. I remember watching the video, and listening to the twang of the guitar, and Kele’s beginning with quiet vocals before launching into the chorus of the song. It sounded to me like what you would normally expect from Bloc Party. I enjoyed the song, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a song that wouldn’t hit true like so many others before it. When I hold it up to other songs like Helicopter, Flux and Talons, it feels almost lacklustre. It certainly packs a punch, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t seem to pack the same kind of punch that the previous songs have done.
It was with this feeling that the whole album came as quite a surprise. The album has many good moments within it, from it’s strong opener of So He Begins To Lie, to the dark and ominous second track 3×3, which sounds almost like it could be the result of an experiment with System of a Down (except perhaps lighter almost). Other strong songs include Day Four, which seems to echo back to some of their earlier work, with the lightness it possesses. It is almost chilled out, and when it builds up to the chorus, it isn’t overbearing, but still as gentle as when it began (or as gentle as Bloc Party can be). Possibly one of the most interesting songs is Coliseum, which begins with what sounds like a slide guitar, with Kele calling out the vocals. It almost seems to sounds like a Johnny Cash song until it hits into it’s middle section, and in comes an aggressive guitar structure. It is definitely one of the highlights of the album, regardless of whether it becomes a lead single or not.
The album is one of Bloc Party’s most interesting. It has a contrast of what could be described as aggressive songs (3×3, Coliseum, We Are Not Good People) with some more chilled out and down-tempo songs (Day Four, The Healing). And then other songs seem to strick a balance between these two contrasting styles (Octopus, Kettling, Team A). When I think back to previous Bloc Party albums, there is certainly contrast in the music, but I don’t think to this scale. It makes this one of Bloc Party’s best efforts, and certainly demonstrates everything they’ve learnt over the years since the release of Silent Alarm.
Overall though, I don’t think this album lives up to what has preceeded it. It would be unfair to say that it is worse than Silent Alarm, A Weekend in the City and Intimacy, but the simple truth of the matter is that it isn’t as strong as these albums. It is certainly a welcome album, and I am glad it is what it is, as I think a repeat performance of what they’ve already done would have just been annoying and made me mad, thus i’m therefore glad that they have tried what they have tried. In the end though, it just seems that it doesn’t pay off with every song.
- ★★★☆☆ 3/5
- So He Begins To Lie
- Team A
- The Healing
Thank you for reading this review.