The four-person-strong British band, Bloc Party have made a return with their fourth album, four years after their last full-length release. Unsurprisingly called, ‘Four’ this latest release will, of course bear comparisons to their past three albums. However, this is never such a simple task for Bloc Party aficionados, as they are known to take shifts in direction across each album, let alone between releases.
Where tracks like ‘Real Talk’ and ‘The Healing’ deliver with a quality that stands somewhere between the likes of Radiohead and The Cure, this album also sees the band bring a harder-edged, guitar-driven set, with tracks like the hard-rocking, ’3X3.’ This move away from a purely traditional indie-rock sentiment may displease those who had hoped for a carbon-copy of debut album, ‘Silent Alarm,’ but is certainly closer to the band’s rocking roots than the most-recent, ‘Intimacy.’ ‘Four’ contains some terrific moments of indie-pop, such as on the lighter ‘Truth,’ hard-rocking guitar tracks, and even a smattering of post-punk, courtesy of ‘We’re Not Good People.’
If anything, ‘Four’ is something of a schizophrenic beast, with the more reflective tracks, offering the type of indie fare that fans of alternative music will appreciate, before breaking into metal-tinged moments of driving rock-guitar and crashing drum-lines. This contrast is evident by the transition from ‘Kettling,’ which could be one of the band’s hardest tracks to date, straight to ‘Day Four,’ whose gentler approach brings a feel closer to U2 rather than Metallica. ‘Coliseum,’ then comes along to change perceptions once more, with a definite blues influence that breaks down into a hard-rock assault. This ease of switching between instrumental styles makes this album interesting, even as it may confound some listeners less willing to adapt track-by-track.
Lyrically, things have been simplified somewhat, creating a more instantly accessible sound that should still appeal to new and existing fans alike. Sure, tracks like ‘Team A’ and the single, ‘Octopus’ will touch a chord with existing fans of Bloc Party, but it is clear that the band are creating their own niche rather than allowing themselves to get stuck in the rut of preconceptions. That said, ‘Four’ will certainly appeal to fans of indie-rock even as it stretches the boundaries on both the harder and more melodic ends of the spectrum.
Is this Bloc Party’s best album to date? That’s hard to say without more time for it to sink in, but it is certainly a contender for the silver medal… if not the gold itself.