Review Summary: Bloc Party abandon all progress made on their last two records and attempt to make a fan pleasing record while simultaneously throwing in a bunch of new influences resulting in a huge mess that is all over the place and on the whole unpleasant.
Bloc Party are a band many believe prematurely shot their wad with Silent Alarm
, and on what was supposed to be a dry run if you will, had something of a mess on their hands with A Weekend In The City
. Say what you will about those records but at least they had vision and a purpose and felt like whole records. Four is a mess of an album with many conflicting ideas thrown together and it feels like they gave the album the simple title Four because the album had no theme to base the title after except maybe Huge Mess
which probably wouldn't helped album sales. Four mixes many different styles but ends up being less than the sum of its parts.
Four starts off optimistically enough with "So He Begins To Lie" and" 3x3", two of the most complete and focused songs on the record. I make the point of saying they feel complete because many songs on Four feel incomplete because they don't go anywhere and have insultingly simple song structures. Songs like "Octopus" and "V.A.L.I.S." are fun and catchy, but they're lacking the stellar bridge and solo sections Bloc Party are known for and suffer for their lack of diversity. On most of the tracks on four, Bloc Party spew out a couple of verses and choruses and that's that the song is over. The few songs that take their time and develop like the two opening tracks are the best songs on the record.
Bloc Party changed their sound a lot between their three previous albums and many fans resisted these changes. I personally embraced the changes because those albums felt like the band had something different to say and couldn't get this message across with a Silent Alarm 2.0.
While Four does have its fair share of changes, they feel random like the band just threw darts at a board full of genres and motifs, and whichever random bits the darts landed on they implemented into their new record. Four comes across as a record deprived of feeling, personality, and purpose, and without these qualities it's nothing more than a middle of the pack alternative rock album.
A few of the tracks on Four
have these new heavy distorted power chord sections that stick out like a sore thumb for a band known for bright high end guitar riffs. They sound like the band didn't have time to write enough riffs so they just trudged through these tracks with power chords and put heavy distortion on the guitar to distract the listener from how boring the songs are. The most notable song with this new style is "Coliseum" that also starts with this terrible intro that's supposed to sound country or something and it doesn't match the second half of the song at all. Kele also put this lame effect on his voice probably so the listener wouldn't notice he's singing without passion. These tracks are completely forgettable and don't sound like Bloc Party at all and really kill the flow of the album.
Even without the terrible out of place tracks Four
still has no flow. On this record Bloc Party attempt to throw out a heavy angry song sandwiched between a somber track and a dancey radio tune and it just doesn't work. Bloc Party also throw in painful studio banter to distract the listener from the lack of flow, almost like skits on a hip hop record except it doesn't work. Four
is also littered with terrible cliche catch phrase lyrics like "Snitches get Stitches" and "Let me show you how we do in my hood" almost like a bad rap album and all it does is point out how little thought was put into this record and how little the band cares.
goes completely off the rails after the eighth track "V.A.L.I.S." and only "Truth" stands out after this point concluding with the album ending on a whimper. The first few times I listened to Four
I didn't realize the album was over and I was on the bonus tracks because of how weak and forgettable the last track is. The album finisher "We're Not Good People" is another one of those really boring heavily distorted power chord songs that sounds like it should be on a radio friendly post grunge album album or something and then the album is over. Why Bloc Party chose a song that sounds nothing like them to end their comeback record is beyond me.
When Bloc Party try to forget their last two records and build upon Silent Alarm
it doesn't work because the band members aren't the same people they were in 2005 musically or personally. Abandoning progress to please fans is never a good direction to take a band and will ultimately end up with the band treading water and being forgotten because it's better to make a different record then to make an inferior version of a previous record. I tried really hard to like this record until I realized it has nothing to say, is meaningless, completely forgettable, and not even fun enough or catchy enough to warrant its existence. Bloc Party went from a band that didn't care if their fans didn't like electronics because that's what they wanted to play, to a band that obviously has no passion or chemistry playing with each other anymore and recorded Four merely to shut up fans who wanted another record more like Silent Alarm
is disjointed, all over the place, lazy and an extremely disappointing record made by a band that used to have my respect, and I hope their next record (if they ever make another) sounds more like Bloc Party, but I'm not holding my breath after this major disappointment.