Album Review: Bloc Party ‘Four’
Fans of Bloc Party have had reason to worry about the future of the band for a while now. They appeared for a time to be a bit lost as far as what to do next, and seemed to be on the verge of breaking up all together. After a bit of a hiatus though they have returned with an album that wants to make the statement of a return to form, picking up from where Silent Alarm’s post-punk explosion left off. That’s the intent, but the success of Four is debatable.
The early part of the album is very dark and foreboding, but it’s not as energetically aggressive as some of their past work has been. Instead, it’s actually a little unpleasant, though in a way that will definitely appeal to a lot of listeners. Bloc Party is a much more ambitious band than most would think of when they hear the word “indie”, and exploring these kinds of depths is evidence of that. They are also a band that is wont to evolve, and after getting more into electronic elements with their last couple of releases, this back-to-basics approach ends up with them sounding a bit more like Muse.
The second half of the album gets into gentler sounds, and winds up feeling very depressing. The band has been very strong when they have narrowed their scope and looked inward, penning songs of love and personal matters, but here it feels like they are really trying for that and it just isn’t as genuine. It’s still remarkably effective, though, and these songs contain some of the album’s most worthy and beautiful moments.
There are not many standout tracks on Four until the very end, and much of the album has a very sameish feeling, which I can’t help but think– especially for this type of music– is simply a little boring. Even though the record has two distinct movements within it, each of them is made up of easily interchangeable tracks, to the point that if they had released only two songs the experience would have been pretty much the same.
The final effort of the album is ‘We Are Not Good People’, and for me this is far and away the best of the bunch. It gets right back to the energy and the passion the band displayed on their debut, and really helps to lift this release back up at the last moment, and not resting on its laurels. It’s not enough to make Four a great album, but a pretty good one in the end, and it’s certainly a promising sign for the future.
This is ultimately the album Bloc Party fans have asked for, but I’m not convinced that it’s the one the band themselves wanted to make. They just don’t feel into it, or maybe they aren’t completely sure of themselves. No less is it a good rock record to put on to fit a certain mood, but be careful not to dwell there too long, which is advice I would offer the band as well.
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Image Courtesy of Frenchkiss