Bloc Party - FOUR
Ah, indie. Remember when it didn’t mean tight jeans and plaid shirts and before pop culture hijacked it to sell The Kooks records and haircuts? Bloc Party are here to remind you. It's been a while since they dropped their strong debut Silent Alarm around that period and a lot has changed, but FOUR marks a statement of intent; a rather titan return to form that tells Spector et al. to get the hell out of the way.
Countering the limp dance floor anthems found on Kele Okereke’s solo effort The Boxer, FOUR instead demonstrates a referential blitz of 90s arena rock, taking countless cues from Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. Lead single ‘Octopus’ suggests little has changed in regards to hooks; the poppy math rock rhythm, choral shout of “Mary Anna” and thumping drums are recipe enough for a hit. FOUR proves from the offset however that it’s much more than a rinse and repeat pop record, opener ‘So He Begins To Lie’ is brash and alarming, driven entirely towards a soaring closure of lavish riffs and Matt Tong's apelike drumming.
While 2008’s Intimacy directed the band towards a wrongly unfavoured balance of modern electronica and rock, FOUR is an ode to the records that bred a precocious love of music. The imprints of Siamese Dream, White Pony and Doolittle are unglazed and evident: midway cut ‘Coliseum’ is an instrumental storm, while ‘3x3’ blazes through an exchange of bizarre sexualised cries between Kele and an assumed alter ego - “No means no, no means no, no means no, YES, no, YES!”... you get the idea. Even ‘Real Talk’, possibly the most conservatively structured track on the album, manages to delve within Kele’s emotive psyche. It’s also the closest FOUR gets to the yearning nature of A Weekend In The City with Kele repeatedly exclaiming "my mind is open and my body is yours, just show me the sign!"
FOUR is by no means without fault: ‘V.A.L.I.S’ is a meandering low, while closer ‘We Are Not Good People’ doesn’t quite hit as hard as its chorus suggests it should be doing. Regardless, this is a record that defies expectation and consistently avoids the pitfalls of mainstream indie. Rather than providing a series of jingles to be prostituted, FOUR gives fans a sincere reminder of why they cared for Bloc Party to begin with.