Tuesday 21 August 2012

Bloc Party - Four

There's always been antagonism in the music of Bloc Party between guitarist Russell Lissack and frontman Kele Okereke's own desire to create an electro record.  And it's been a busy couple of years for the band, what with Okereke off writing his own solo material (such as the excellent Tenderoni and What Did I Do?) and seemingly being kicked out.

Now Bloc Party return with their fourth album, ingeniously entitled 'Four' (sadly not linked to BeyoncĂ©).  Okereke has clearly knocked the electro leanings out of his system and has returned to the band to create a back to basics, guitar-focused record that rekindles the fire of their reknowned debut 'Silent Alarm'.

Yet this idea has been shoehorned into 'Four' through inane chatter and quips between tracks.  It feels false, offering a forced sense of unity and renewed friendship as if to say "look we're friends really and we're back in the studio making real rock music".  It's not intrusive but it's unnecessary: the music speaks for itself.

'Four' is an album of great tracks.  Devoid of all electronica, this is a purely guitar based sound more akin to 'Silent Alarm' than previous album 'Intimacy'.  Guitar riffs laced with varying distortion effects, powerful basslines and Okereke's unmistakable vocal are all part of their aggressive, post-punk sound as exemplified by recent single Octopus.  Little has changed, but with today's apparent dearth of rock, Bloc Party still sound fresh.  Fans will no doubt be pleased.

That's not to say 'Four' is simply a rehash of 'Silent Alarm'.  For starters, it has a slicker, more confident feel than the rawness of their debut.  Okereke's vocal has a newfound delicacy as featured in Real Talk and Day Four, the latter of which has an introduction indebted to Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition.  Coliseum, meanwhile, begins with an acoustic blues riff and, halfway through, mutates into an intense rock track.

Having meandered through different influences and even considered losing their star performer, Bloc Party have come full circle.  'Four' is the ferocious album that was always meant to follow their debut.  Who said rock is dead?


Gizzle's Choice:
* Real Talk
* Day Four

Listen: 'Four' is available now.

Watch: Bloc Party are touring the USA in September.