Bloc Party has been one of the most consistent surprises in music in the last decade. The British quartet, somehow taking the disparate tones of political post-punk and dance rock and mashing them together into a brilliant whole, released 3 albums to critical and commercial success: Silent Alarm (which features the band’s biggest hit, “Helicopter”), A Weekend In The City (less successful IMO, but still has wonderful tracks like “Hunting For Witches“) and Intimacy (which introduced the world at large to the movie-monsters-meets-WWE mashup known as Kaiju Big Battel via the video for “Flux”). Then in 2008, the band decided to put on the brakes for a little while.
Frontman Kele Okerke, already a singular voice in the musical landscape by virtue of being both British and black, wasted no time. Outing himself as gay, he then went on to make straight-up dance music with the full length The Boxer and EP The Hunter. Pretty engaging stuff in its own right, Okerke–who also wrote probably the only explicitly gay love story in rock music with this song–delved into the far end of dancehall and the many electro/techno genres the UK invents every other week with songs like “Everything You Wanted”.
The other members kept busy too; guitarist Russell Lissack toured with successful rock band Ash and bassist Gordon Moakes formed the post-hardcore group Young Legionnaire. It’s that group, with its trashy aesthetic and sound, that probably poured the biggest influence into the making of Four (cover above), the album from the reunited Bloc Party that came out yesterday. It injects a breath of bratty fresh air into the band, juicing them up like they had chugged one too many Red Bulls and taken the open mic at a poetry slam to rail against damn near everyone.
This album is great; Bloc Party has always been a band that looked and sounded like no one else, and this reaffirms that with astonishing success. My personal standouts?
Well, first off, there’s lead single “Octopus,” which blends guitars with keyboards like it’s the future and we’re rocking down in one of those dance clubs from Batman Beyond (I’m contractually obligated to mention superheroes every post).
Then there’s “Real Talk,” in my mind the highlight of the album. Okerke’s soaring, brave falsetto, the calm steady drumbeat and sunny lyrics make me feel that this is a song meant to be in the closing credits of a movie or maybe some hip anime.
Finally, there’s “Coliseum,” a perfect example of the new, thrashier Bloc Party that’s A. either an indictment against UFC fighting or violence in general and B. will probably be used as a walk-up song by a UFC fighter with a particularly dim grasp of irony. Either way, this song is damn brutal and I LOVE IT.
This is gonna be one of the best albums of 2012 and you owe it to yourselves to get it. If anyone has any other British rock/punk bands they think I should try, post them below. See you Friday with more British tidings!