Bloc Party - Four
The only absolute truth about Bloc Party is that they make music. Other than that they are inextricably set in changing contexts. Their 'arrival' in 2005 marked the rebirth of British indie rock and Silent Alarm will surely appear on the 'my first' lists of the young music savvy. But they're forever bound by this initial liaison and so suffer the unrelenting pressure to maintain the ideal that emerged from it.
To the members, Bloc Party is not a static memory. The oft-criticised switch from accomplished, exciting garage rock to the half-baked electronica of Intimacy showed that despite opposition, artistry would always be above idealism; art is half the image itself and half the context of its creation.
So, our disregard for context and Bloc Party's unflappable commitment to it left them prey to journalist hyperbole. Typically off hand humour turned into fretted rumour of "banishment-of-singer," "open-auditions-for-lead," and more recently "this will be a last album together." It's a surprise then, though good, that the reference point they forged in 2005 for music listeners is now theirs again in 2012. Four, with its immediacy and mostly pristine garage rock production will surely quell the corners of doubt that emerged post Silent Alarm. Four is organic and interpersonal; like 2005 cross-pollinating with 2012.
"After making a very heavily produced and planned solo record I became obsessed with the idea of things happening organically," Kele told Life + Times. Four not only feels organic, but with the little ad lib moments from the "have you got that already?" in the opening track 'So He Begins to Lie' before drums kick and guitars flare to a discussion involving variations of the word 'breast', Four feels contextual. We're getting a fly-on-the-wall peek into their creative process, this time involving simple formulas with gratifying results.
The plan for 'indie rock laid bare' was enabled by producer Alex Newport who, having worked with likes of Frank Turner and At The Drive-In, was able to produce the ordered chaotic moments of lead single 'Octopus' as well as the hormonal sensitivities of 'Real Talk'. This versatility fits well with Kele's vocal ability, a quality often underappreciated in indie music. In '3 x 3' the vocals transcend from sinister whispers to his signature high-pitched pleading.
In 'Day Four's intimate discussion of time, the vocals are agile and communicate instinctively with the listener. "My life, much long /What I know/ it's running out/Raise it, stay brave/But I know, it will return/On the fourth day." Nowhere in Four, are the forced pretensions of politics that added little to their previous albums. Nor is the album vacuous; as always there is engagement with context with 'Kettling' recalling the London riots with the same vitality as the occasion itself (the riots being a very literal vitality of course).
'Coliseum' starts confusingly with western stoicism, "ain't got time to prove/why even bother/just ignore the signs" before it quickly transcends into primal Rock 'n' Roll. It's very loaded and subsequently not neatly placed into the stripped back way of Four. Perhaps because the band's success is to do with their ability to find a beat wedged in tightly wound instrumentation. 'V.A.L.I.S' exhibits this entirely by marrying urgent music and multisyllabic words with well fitted syncopation, "he's into con-spi-racy, he's into the-o-phany-he's into phen-om-e-nology," followed by tremulous cries and cute handclaps.
The anarchic 'We Are Not Good People' is the ending to an album that wants to create something completely natural. By fact, they achieve this; no sense of vapid overproduction, no use of the synthetic production tools omnipresent in Intimacy. Four is quite simply a jamming garage rock band. It's as though they'll never stop. Every note sounds young and lyric, inspired.
The key to understanding Bloc Party is that their music just happens to entertain others. Without being selfish, they create music out of fleeting passion, not people or an ideal vision. "Music is not supposed to be perfect, it's just an expression or an attempt to capture a moment." Though Four will be compared to Silent Alarm for good reason, it's a record made out of inspiration to create old-fashion garage indie rock music. They aren't constrained by perceptions. The only absolute truth about Bloc Party is that they make music…and good music at that.
Purchase and listen
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