Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review: Bloc Party - Four

 Whether you view them as another band that caused the UK music scene to be overrun by indie bands or are one of the most exciting and unpredictable band to come from the scene of the naughties, London quartet Bloc Party have always been one of the most kinetic and dynamic indie bands that gained notoriety throughout the indie explosion that dominated the rock scene at over the past ten years and may start to make a big resurgence before we know it. From the wild indie tunes of 2005's Silent Alarm, to the trippier influences from dance music that fueled their further releases and allowed them to climb up the singles charts in 2008 with Flux, to the further diversity in their side projects, like the heavier Young Legionnaire and the thrilling electronic solo career of frontman Kele Okereke. Following a hiatus that's allowed them to do projects like these, the band make a long awaited return for fourth album Four, that sees them slam back into action in a way that some fans might not have expected and other fans have long waited for.

 If you did find yourself unsatisfied by the band's venture into more pop based electronic territory then Four acts as a return to original form that goes far beyond what the band originally proved themselves to be capable of. In interviews, Okereke stated that he had been listening to a lot of Nirvana before recording this album and from the dirty riffs that thunder into action on So He Begins to Lie, it's obvious that Bleach had had a fair amount of plays before the songwriting process began. Songs like this and Kettling show the boldness of Bloc Party and their ability to do what would have gotten them nowhere during the 2000's indie rock explosion and grow some extra balls, crank up the distortion and play their songs heavy with the ferocity of the kind of bands that built up the fuzzed up reputation of Sub Pop Records.

 The heaviness can be felt across Four in a fully convincing style. We Are Not Good People has the fat riff rock style that wouldn't sound out of place on Queens of the Stone Age's self titled debut, while 3x3 delivers charged up riffage reminiscent to Nirvana's Tourette's. The fearsome growls from Okereke across the song gives listeners the sound of danger once again, on which the foundations of rock and roll lay.

 There are also moments that carry of the swagger on which the foundations of rock and roll lay in a totally convincing manner as well. Real Talk serves as a perfect foot stomping rock song where hooks are swinging, vocals are smooth and amongst the prolonged roughness, there lies the characteristic of a song so effortlessly slick. The classic rock influence that the garage rock revival brought back to life at the start of the year has a brief visit on the album, but damn, does it make an impact. It shows Bloc Party and be more fearsome and cooler than their competition without even trying.

 Yet amongst all this rock and roll bravado, there too lies a more sensitive emotion driven element to the album. With  it's repetition of tender guitar patterns and soft vocal melodies, Truth manages to find itself to be extremely simple but touching at the same time, while the delicate arrangement of The Healing into textured atmospheric musical backdrops is so easy to become absorbed within, you can feel the rush of emotion simply encircle you and realise that beauty does lie within the band's work.

 So, with the rush of emotion, the urgency of performances and the amounts of swagger and fierceness put into their songs, Bloc Party have come back stronger than ever with Four. I know there are still a high number of people that still only know the band because of Flux, and nothing from that song and that era of songs could prepare them for the monster contained within this album. It's genuinely thrilling to hear the band become heavy and it's beyond anything one may expect from a band that were once big on the indie scene and I know that if there are people that clung that scene of bands in the hope that one of them may produce a real rock and roll record, then they've finally found it. And this might not even be the band you expected it to come from.

Bloc Party's Four is out now via Frenchkiss. The band will tour the UK in October with Theme Park.

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