I still remember the first time I heard Bloc Party’s “Helicopter” off of their first album Silent Alarm. It was 2006 and I was in my Junior year of High School. I was standing in PacSun and was immediately blown away. Fairly soon after that, Silent Alarm became somewhat of a staple album for my friends and I at school. The following year, the band put out their second album A Weekend In The City, which saw the band move in a different direction. One that I think a lot of fans of Silent Alarm weren’t initially expecting, or wanting. Instead of the fun DIY indie-rock jams of that album, A Weekend In The City featured more electronic elements and starker song writing. I was, I think, the only one of my friends who ended up liking that album.
By the time Bloc Party released their third album, Intimacy, I think most fans of the band’s original sound had kind of written them off. Where A Weekend In The City had started to dabble in electronic elements, Intimacy was a full blown electronic dance album, with some songs being exclusively synths and drum loops. Almost a year after that album’s release, Bloc Party called it quits and all moved on to various other side projects, shelving the Bloc Party name for a little over four years.
And to be honest, at the start of this year, I never thought that I’d be listening to a new Bloc Party album by the end of the summer. Let alone, a GREAT Bloc Party album. The new album, aptly titled Four, is THE album for anyone and everyone who had written the band off. Gone are the keyboards and over production, and back are the lo-fi noodlings of an indie garage band. Four was produced by Alex Newport, who has previously produced albums from The Melvins as well as At The Drive-In’s In/Casino/Out, and it sounds wonderful. It sounds like four dudes recording together in the same room at the same time, as opposed to four dudes sitting on computers meticulously crafting electronic parts to overdub over other electronic parts.
One thing that I really appreciate about Four is the album’s ability to not just simply rehash Silent Alarm‘s successes. Sure, the band went back to that album’s style, but in no way is Four trying to copy it, which you see quite frequently from bands who take a step back to a more familiar successful sound. Instead, the band enter into that familiar territory and write songs that are completely fresh and feel like a brand new, yet natural progression. In a way, it feels like what could have been the follow up to Silent Alarm, had they not gone in the direction that they did for A Weekend In The City and Intimacy.
Songs like “3X3″, “Kettling”, “Coliseum” and “We Are Not Good People” showcase a new punk sensibility for Bloc Party. These songs are insanely fun and energetic. Even though Silent Alarm featured slight post-punk elements, nothing that band has done before has ever felt this straight forward “PUNK”. That’s not to say that the whole album is a punk album, though. The traditional lush down-tempo songs that Bloc Party are known to craft are present as well with “Day Four” (my personal favorite track on the whole album) and “The Healing”. Dare I say, they may be the most beautiful sounding tracks the band has ever written. If you WERE a fan of Bloc Party’s dance vibes, don’t be alarmed (pun maybe intended?), as there are still plenty of songs you can dance to. The band just replaced synths with glitchy guitar pedals, ala Minus The Bear. But way better.
So yeah, if you wrote off Bloc Party at one point in your life, please give Four a shot. It’s great, it’s tons of fun, and it’s one of the most surprisingly efficient comeback albums I’ve heard in a really long time.
I give Four a solid 4/5
By Richard Pepper