Listening to Bloc Party, for me, is a little like stepping into a time machine. Granted that time machine is only going back to 2005, but it’s a time machine nonetheless. Bands like Maxïmo Park, The Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand and of course Bloc Party represent the up-and-comers of the indie universe and their fresh take on post-punk is all the rage. I distinctly remember playing my burned copy of Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm until it wouldn’t play anymore. They had an undeniable knack for melody and for making modern ballads. Since then I’ll admit I haven’t really paid attention to the UK quartet. 2006’s A Weekend in the City was fine I guess, but after that my knowledge of Bloc Party only extends to a song called ‘Mercury’ which may as well have been nails on a chalkboard.
Here I am though in 2012 listening to their fourth LP, aptly titled Four. It finds the band, for the most part, up to their old tricks. Their explosion onto the scene in 2005 has been followed mostly by yawns, and I’m happy to say that this album will at least be greeted with raised eyebrows and perhaps even a surprised gasp or two. Lead single ‘Octopus’ harkens back to their glory days, it’s catchy, propulsive and expertly places one foot on the dance floor. If there’s one positive to take away from Four it’s that Bloc Party have come back down to Earth and let any of the misplaced electronic aspirations they had on 2008’s Intimacy go off into the ether. Kele Okerke and co. have come back into the studio from a hiatus and seem to be refocused, playing to their strengths, especially on post-punk gems like ‘3x3’, ‘Kettling’, ‘Truth’ and ‘V.A.L.I.S.’
It’s not exactly a triumphant return to form, but this is easily the best album Bloc Party have made since Silent Alarm. They didn’t try to pull any punches this time around and as a result made a record that sounded like a Bloc Party record, not like a band trying too hard to move towards the electronics that have become the norm for so many indie acts. Put this one down in my pleasantly surprised column, it’s good to hear these guys again