Review: Bloc Party – Four

Being a Bloc Party fan can be frustrating. Their debut album, Silent Alarm, was an amazing record, but since then every subsequent release has failed to live up to its promise. What makes it even more bothering is that these releases show flashes of brilliance, but don’t offer the reliability or cohesiveness of the band’s debut record.

Let me restore your faith – partially at least – because Four is Bloc Party’s best record since Silent Alarm. Four abandons the electronic instrumentation of Intimacy and marks a return to the guitar-based style that Bloc Party does best. Lead single “Octopus” and “So He Begins To Lie” both contain catchy, larger-than-life riffs reminiscent of Silent Alarm. The band have also rediscovered how to write a college radio-friendly chorus with album standout “V.A.L.I.S.”, while still staying in touch with their softer side with the sweeping ballad “The Healing”.

Unfortunately, the album does have its pitfalls due to two main issues: laziness and lack of good judgement. Laziness can be seen on “Team A” which mines the same riff as “Octopus”  for the first forty seconds of the song (I actually had to check the track name on my ipod because I thought I’d accidently skipped back a couple songs). “Kettling” and “We Are Not Good People” also falls victim to this laziness, coming of as played out versions of the similar-sounding “So He Begins To Lie”. Lack of good judgment is evident on the album’s second song, “3×3”, which tries so hard to be chilling and atmospheric through Kele Okereke’s sinister whispers that it comes off as corny, stopping the album’s momentum before it even gets its footing.

I don’t want this review to sound overly negative, because Four is one half of a really great album. Bloc Party has shown that they haven’t lost their knack for songwriting; now all they need to do is make an album that’s actually an album, instead of focusing on writing a couple great songs and hoping that will be enough. Four is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough for a band with as much talent as these guys. If they wait another four years to put out an album, it better be something worthy of their fan base’s admiration. Because if it isn’t, Bloc Party might not find themselves relevant for much longer.

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