Listening to Bloc Party’s latest album FOUR. It came out in 2012 but I’m only just now hearing it because I’d been scared off the band after their horrible third album INTIMACY.
When Bloc Party first appeared with their excellent debut SILENT ALARM and a classic post punk Gang of Four/Wire influence as filtered through Brit pop, they seemed destined for greatness. If anything, their second album A WEEKEND IN THE CITY was even more commercial although it didn’t seem to have as much inspired raw energy as the debut.
They then hit a wall with INTIMACY. While musically they fell in with a number of disheartening musical clichés (such as the repeated line at the start of “Mercury”), lyrically frontman Kele switched from tales of modern day anxiety to uninteresting minor takes on his romantic life. He continued this theme into his solo album THE BOXER albeit with more enthusiasm and better musical arrangements but without Russell Lissack’s splintery delayed guitar effects.
But FOUR I’m happy to say is a complete return to the sound of the first two records with the addition of especially soaring, searing choruses. All parts of their music, vocals, playing, the songs themselves, show the mark of a band that is now back on track and if anything still getting better.
One thing Bloc Party shares with a number of 2000 British bands such as Maximo Park, Editors, Elbow, Arctic Monkeys, etc. is they’ve never been able to fully capitalize on their awesome debut. They’ve made good music since but not as consistently. This first album problem might be a subject for another blog post.