Some things need to get broken first before they can finally live. Almost three years ago the career of british indie rockers BLOC PARTY was on the verge of collapse. Three studio albums in five years, almost permanent touring and a general loss of track forced the influential group to almost split. They were tired and sick of each other, exhausted and frustrated – without any compass or idea what to follow their impressive first records. Silent Alarm was back in 2005 one of the purest and engergy-filled debut records of the past decade, the sophomore record A Weekend In The City was an ambitious and generation-defining selection of anthems, while 2008s Intimacy didn’t really know which musical direction to take but was still solid. It had to stop, the band had to go away with everyone acting out their vision in different forms. Frontman Kele Okereke had his coming out and recorded a electronic solo record, guitarist Russell Lissack joined old britpop heroes ASH on tour, Gordon Moakes had a baby and a new band while drummer Matthew Tong did all kinds of different stuff.
[one_half last=”no”][youtube id=”TkeUFRK4i7w” width=”300″ height=”180″][/one_half]Somewhere in 2011 the four met again, uncertain If they should continue BLOC PARTY. They started playing, recording and slowly reinventing the idea what their group once was about. The purity of these four musicians playing in room together, creating intensity, atmosphere and energy with their bare hands and ambitions – Four is the consequence of this re-thinking, the return to old form, the continuing of an idea that somehow got lost between too much success, drugs, electronic playgrounds and all those career-accompanying demons. It’s not only the fourth record of these four friends, it’s the essence of what BLOC PARTY is about.
The whole concept of – like Kele pointed it out – ‘four guys playing in a room’ is the credo and constant of this record. One one half its the return to the sound of their early days (Truth, V.A.L.I.S., Real Talk) and on the other half BLOC PARTY take a more harder and heavier rock direction that almost got moments of grunge or old 90s alternative rock (So He Begings To Lie, Kettling). One thing stays clear – it’s really voice, guitar, bass and drums, not much else. The whole electronic aspect has been locked away, still tracks like Team A or lead single Octopus make us dance like Banquet and Co. once did in the 00s. The harder side presents its anger with Okerekes harsh words about last years London riots (“We drop the lighter into the gas, If the whole world is watching us”), the impending collapse of our system (“Can’t change the drama, in time you’ll see, the empire never ended”) or other darkened thoughts that stay in mind – like “If God is God then why is he secret?” in the angry album closer We’re Not Good People.
But besides all the frustration and desperation BLOC PARTY still offer hope and redemption in their music. The calmed-down Day Four – which seems to deal with the overcoming of a drug addiction – is pure heaven and one of the best songs this group has ever made. The Healing at the end of the record seems to make all the anger of previous tracks disappear with an entreating Kele Okereke that wants to give us the desperately needed guidance – “Stay with me my dear, as life gets harder. Whatever strikes, you’ll heal.” In a world driven by the urge of innovation and a pop business that seems to totally focus on electronic gimmicks and shallow hedonism BLOC PARTY made the right turn before they ended up in the same situation. But thank god, they are back – full of power, anger, ideas and something to say. A Wake-Up Call to us all. These are exciting times – not only for this band.
indie / post-punk
from London, United Kingdom