Before you rejoice to the gods of the interwebs for bringing you the long awaited fourth album from a reunited Bloc Party allow me to warn you about what you are about to experience. This Modern Love of mine forced me to go hunting for witches and babble on and on about one of my favorite bands in a state of flux. These are just my little thoughts. Don't let them cloud your judgement too much. It's just a spot of positive tension.
This is at both time your once and future kings' Bloc Party and then it is also some weird odd heavy buzzsaw by way of the late 90's crunchy guitar rock Bloc. Well beyond "Helicopter" and into a totally different realm that,if you are looking for Silent Alarm, might have you let down. Truthfully I'll gladly take A Tale of Two Weekends in the Cities (see what I did there?) over no Kele and Co.
The response from the few people I've shared this with already has been less then positive. I understand their immediate reaction...but not their anger. In the past whenever Bloc Party came out with a new album I was always slightly let down it wasn't an exact copy of Silent Alarm. That was a special album for people. I know it was special for me. It was our bluest light. We had a bond with Silent Alarm that we insisted all other Bloc Party albums recreate. It's a losing battle for the band. To combat that the band smartly changed their sound on each successive album and watched as more and more fans liked less and less. The funny thing is now that enough time has passed people look back fondly at "A Weekend in the City" ("too slow!") and "Intimacy "Too dancy!".
They couldn't win then...and they certainly won't now. They have gone back to a HEAVY guitar sound to embrace their roots and influences..but something got mixed up along the way. The album starts off in a way that does not do the band any favors in keeping the naysayers at bay. Something glorious is not about to happen when you press play....but please don't run run run. In 2004 you could expect people to look past two speed bumps but not in 2012. There's no commitment anymore. We download and dump. "So He Begins to Lie" and "3X3" are some metally Rockstar Steel Dragon belting stuff. They are definitely knee jerk reactions to everyone crying about their full tilt toward electronica. It's as if they are saying "Here are the bloody guitars you asked for. Are you not entertained?"
Lead single "Octupus" has a bouncy step to it that is reminiscent of Intimacy (albeit with added EVH shredding) so that familiarity helps. Helping even more is the RAC remix of this track that already came out. "Real Talk" is a slowed down familiar sound. Mind you I can't shake the feeling that I'm listening to Bloc Party's idea of a song that could have nabbed a spot on the Lethal Weapon 4 soundtrack. So Stingy. Here's the real talk on "Real Talk": I think I'd dig it more if they replaced the banjo (that is a banjo right?) with a synth.
Track 5 "Kettling"....um...well I'm not sure who I am listening to (those guitars belong in 1999) and that's fine. In time a quick call to the RAC for song by song remixes can fix some of these missteps for the inevitable Remix album. They love doing those. "Day Four" feels like "A Weekend in the City" outtake...or at the very least City adjacent. (#craigslist pun FTW).
Personally I think the hits outweigh the mistakes and some of these mistakes will play well live. I have to believe that right?. Realize I'm going to do everything in my mind's power not to hate this LP. This band is too good. I say that as I sit here listening to the opening to Track 6 "Coliseum" Oh no...is that an Uncle Cracker opening...then even worse it goes sadly back to that Kettling terrain.
Fear not blocheads, track 7 "V.A.L.I.S" is punchy and fun...and does not give off those weird nu metal vibes. Truth about "Truth"? I think it stands along next to any loved song from the Bloc back catalog! Is your faith in Kele and Company being restored a little? Mine is.
Working my way through these very disconnected tracks I feel like this is a far better album than I'm letting on. Perhaps splitting it into EPs would make more sense. 2+2 = 4. I can talk myself into that. I've gone ahead and gone through the album for you and divided it up into two discs. I've done this because I would hate for people to dismiss the WHOLE album because of a few speed (metal) bumps in the road. This album is NOT a download&dump...and as I said earlier new Bloc Party is better than no Bloc Party....even if some of their songs on Four sound like Puddle of Mudd. Success, success, success is not over..it's' just uneven.
THE GOOD: A Weekend in the City....or City Adjacent.
THE BAD: A Silent Alarm has gone off on Bloc Party's Flux Capacitor and they are in 1999
So He Begins to Lie
We are Not Good People