After a long hiatus in record label limbo and multiple side projects, it seemed that Bloc Party might call it quits. But the two years off were two years spent well, and the band is back with a bit of a vengeance on its fourth album, simply titled Four. The straightforward title leaves nothing to be assumed, and the band could have gone in either direction with its next musical endeavor—back to its indie-rock roots or continuing on the electronic path of its most recent albums. With producer Alex Newport on the boards (At The Drive-In, the Mars Volta), Bloc Party dug a little deeper, and the rocky years on hiatus fermented into an angsty return.
Four leads off a bit choppy, with “So He Begins To Lie” starting then stopping as it if were a cut track. But the band has a quick chat then pushes on with moody drums and overtly distorted guitars. A little feedback gives it attitude, and Kele Okereke’s distinct vocals hover high above the grit. “3X3” is predominately sung in a harsh whisper that grows in intensity while a menacing guitar line never relents. The first half of the album continues in an electronic modern grunge setting, complete with a head-spinning electronic guitar solo on “Octopus” and heavy, noisy guitars on “Kettling.”
But something happens on “Day Four.” The guitars are cleaner, clearer, and Okereke’s singing is softer, giving the album a light and almost ethereal break. “Coliseum” starts off with a Southern rock guitar twang and Okereke’s soulful vocal delivery but switches directions on the 60-second mark, and the guitar riff drives off into oblivion. “V.A.L.I.S” is reminiscent of Bloc Party’s post-punk past, uptempo and melodic, and the nostalgia continues on “Team A” but with more feedback. “Truth” is a sweet love song, and “The Healing” leads the album to a calming plateau, lulling the listener into thinking that Four will end on a lighter note. But Bloc Party doesn’t let up, and “We’re Not Good People” gets in your face with fast, chaotic guitars and a face-melting solo. The years spent pursuing other musical projects refreshed Bloc Party, and the unofficial reunion record finds the band making an intense comeback.