Bloc Party's third album 'Intimacy' came out in 2008, followed by a period of hiatus. Rumours and hearsay suggested the band may have split but four years after 'Intimacy', they return with their fourth studio record, simply titled 'Four' - the heaviest offering of their back catalogue and also the most lacking in terms of immediacy and anthems.
Pre-album release 'Octopus' signalled the band's shifting intentions, abandoning the more electronic based approach of previous albums and returning the angular guitar led basis of 'Silent Alarm', their seminal debut album. 'Four' ups the ante, amping up the guitars, which shred and shriek their way through twelve tracks.
The new approach is emboldened by the album's producer is Alex Newport, who has produced At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta. Album opener 'So He Begins To Lie' signals the band's intentions from the off, with heavy duty riffage on offer. However, this new outlook feels a step too far, with the guitars overpowering and dominating in a way that is overly melodramatic, while the inter-track skits frustrate.
It is the album's quieter offerings that shine, in particular 'Day Four', 'Truth' and 'V.A.L.I.S' - the latter being the most anthemic track in this collection, albeit cheekily borrowing lyrical and melodic inspiration from 'En Papier' by These New Puritans'. Some of the heavier moments do impress however, the pulsating 'We Are Not Good People' is wasted as an album closer and perhaps would have been better suited as an opener.
'Four' may well prove to be an influential record - a gateway to heavier music for many Bloc Party fans. Broadening horizons is a great thing but it's tough not to think that their latest effort could have benefited from going in a slightly less full-on direction. Despite this slight mis-step, Bloc Party remain a modern British band to cherish.
Find more info at blocparty.com.