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Originally published in The Hindu Metroplus on September 15, 2012

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article3891864.ece

Bloc Party – Four

Frenchkiss Records

Brit indie rockers Bloc Party’s latest release is curiously titled – it’s their fourth full-length album, but also comes after a four year wait of 2008’s ‘Intimacy’. While their last album had a few unmemorable tracks, ‘Four’ is consistently catchy, probably going on to become monument to modern British indie post-punk and alternative rock.

There’s robotic drumming from Matt Tong, deep, often heavy bass lines that you can swim in, courtesy Gordon Moakes, and solos and riffs from Russell Lissack and Kele Okereke. The album kicks off with ‘So He Begins to Lie’, and the first five tracks completely locks the listener in. ‘3×3’ and ‘Kettling’ are sharp, fast, yet somewhat eclectic. The first single ‘Octopus’ is possibly the poppiest, radio-friendly track of the lot.

Keeping in mind that when you’re five tracks in, you know something ahead is going to change about the album’s sound. After all, British acts love to experiment. Bloc Party are no strangers to adding that dash of electronic, digital beats to their songs.

‘Real Talk’ has Okereke’s signature falsetto set to the usual themes of love and want extending beyond friendship. It’s fair to say that subject-wise, the topic of discussion doesn’t deviate too much from the unexpected. It’s what separates them from the rest of Britain’s political-commentary-obsessed artists. That said, if the lyrics seem cheesy, or even the topics themselves, there’s always the music – like in the calculated indie of ‘Team A’, the happy-go-lucky love song ‘Truth’ (which is apparently “I am yours now, respectfully”) and the soft wavy reverberating ‘The Healing’.

They change the mood on ‘Day Four’, a dreamy ballad of sorts swelling with ambient soundscapes. Then they do away with mood all together, and shift vehicles (not even gears) with a country western start to ‘Coliseum’. The song ascends – or descends depending on the way you hear it – into fuzz-filled madness. Clearly, they want to confound.

‘Four’ proves by British alternative rock will never bore at any time. The album traverses between the soft and the heavy, but going by the closing track ‘We’re Not Good People’, Bloc Party prefers to go crazy and step on the distortion pedal for some frenzied dance-y rock. It leaves no doubt that this album leans on the heavy side of things, but with a certain sweetness to it. Which is probably the easiest way to describe Bloc Party.

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