Bloc Party’s fourth studio album, by a four-piece band, returning after a four year hiatus, is somewhat aptly(/unimaginatively) titled Four. Let’s dive in, shall we?
First off let me just say that I love Silent Alarm (Bloc Party’s first studio album). Many fans had been calling for Four to take them back to the beginning of Bloc Party’s musical development and for it to echo the punchy and guitar-driven style that made Silent Alarm so popular. In part, this is achieved. Let’s start with the single, Octopus:
For me singles are important because if they’re good they whet your appetite for the album, but if they’re bad they make you want to run a mile and not touch the CD with a barge pole. If I’m being honest I really like Octopus. It feels more like classic Bloc Party what with Kele’s vocals and the guitar riff is pretty darn cool. Having said that, I do feel like it lacks a little something that songs like This Modern Love and Like Eating Glass had on Silent Alarm. If you’re not thinking about it, this song is awesome. But if you’re reminiscing about the Bloc Party glory days then you might feel that something is missing. Let’s move onto the next big song, Day Four:
Day Four is a strange one. It’s not the usual Bloc Party but I actually love this song. Here they’ve made a quieter track but have still manage to put the Bloc Party stamp on it. Kele strikes a perfect balance between sincerity and aggression in his vocals and there’s still that central guitar that so many of the band’s songs revolve around. This is one of my favorite songs on the CD if not my favorite; I think it’s kind of an experiment, but it’s worked out incredibly well in my opinion. A song perhaps in a similar vein is Real Talk:
Slower, softer, and still super, Real Talk is another one of my favorites on the album. To me Bloc Party’s exploration of softer songs has perhaps revealed a new direction that I’d like to see them experiment with even more. The only real softer, slower song I can think of from Silent Alarm is Compliments and I loved that one. Real Talk has a slower guitar and a sultry feel to it, but now let’s check out V.A.L.I.S.
This song is a kind of mixture, and again I really like it. Faster than Real Talk and Day Four, this track has a wicked guitar riff but is still more downbeat and chilled out than say Octopus. Still, it feels genuine and Kele’s vocals are perfectly sprinkled across the track. Here’s the next big track, Truth:
Again, I really like this song! Nice one Bloc Party, you’re doing well. A real critic might argue that a lot of songs on this album are similar, but who’s complaining when they’re all great?! This track has a classic Bloc Party instrumental with quieter and more sincere vocals from Kele, a combination that the band seem to have used often on the album. I have to say it works out pretty well.
It is therefore obviously great that Bloc Party is back with an album that I love as much as Four. There are elements of Silent Alarm in there but the band seem to have slowed down a little – often there will be a slower vocal performance from Kele combined with a driving guitar backing, or a slower instrumental that doesn’t stop Kele shouting a few times. There are a couple of tracks that I didn’t look at, like So He Begins To Lie, where I feel that the band have tried to recapture some of the louder aspects of their style. Maybe I just like slower songs but for me it wasn’t happening, and it almost seems to be that this was supposed to be a slightly slower album because the harder, heavier songs don’t seem to convey as much to me. There have been rumours that this will be Bloc Party’s last album and if they’re true then the boys have certainly gone out well. I would go grab this off the shelves and shove it in the stereo (no doubt a metaphor for buying it from iTunes and syncing it to your iPod. Sad times.) because you’ll be listening for days.