Music Reviews

Bloc Party Four

( Frenchkiss Records ) Rating - 3/10

Indulge me for a moment in a bad lyrics scavenger hunt. I’ve compiled for your viewing pleasure a mish-mash of them, all taken from each and every song on Bloc Party’s latest release, Four. I won’t tell you which song each lyric comes from, because not only does it ruin the game entirely, but it also doesn’t matter in the slightest. Shall we?

No one loves you, but I don’t know why
I feel like crying, there’s nothing there
no woah

You’re my one and only friend
Our hearts, our hearts, they beat
If the whole world is watching us, let them watch
oh woah

First cut first, pierce the skin
Those mirrors started to lie to him
What’s my name, what’s my name?
Can’t change the drama
no woah

He is not the real me, but I can hear from my future
Ain’t nothing you can teach me
no woah

Pain is hopeful
Pain is holy
Pain is healthy
Pain heals
But the flesh will weave
Back together again
Only scars now

If God is God then why is he secret?
My mind is open, and my body is yours
It was the truth, that fell from these lips
oh woah

My light burns low, and I know it’s running out
I’m going to ruin your life
I’m going to ruin your life

Did that pathetic display utterly embarrass you? Does it remind you of the not-so-halcyon days of middle school, when your entire wardrobe consisted of overpriced Hot Topic band tees and spiked pleather collars and OH MY GOD MOM JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Well, you should be embarrassed, because that’s what Bloc Party is doing now. Bloc Party has moved back in with its parents. Bloc Party is really working through some serious FEELINGS, you guys. Bloc Party is transitioning to heavy metal. Nobody understands Bloc Party. Just let Bloc Party mope in peace.

Maybe the biggest problem with this album, cringe-inducing “message” notwithstanding, is just how contrived it is. From the get-go, we are treated to a false start. There is nothing inherently wrong with false starts, or even the continued interspersed chatter that peppers the rest of the album, but in this case the whole concept feels so horribly forced. I enjoy them when they serve their intended purpose -- showing us a glimpse into the recording process, humanizing our musical heroes, maybe even providing some comic relief. Here the chatter is so out of place with the tightly produced tracks, that it smacks of trying too damn hard, and for no good reason. I roll my eyes each time I hear Kele Okereke drone on at the end of Real Talk: “I’m just talking about my feelings. I was feeling my breast. Uh, no, it was turkey breast. I was keeping abreast of the uh, situation.” Oh my CHRIST, we GET IT, you are SO CLEVER and SO CASUAL. There’s just this pervasive, cloying stink of trying to prove something. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know why it was necessary.

I had supremely high hopes for this album. It’s been forever, and Silent Alarm, a truly era-defining post-punk masterpiece, is still on heavy rotation for me. It wouldn’t be fair to compare this album to previous outputs -- I try my best to review albums in a void -- but I’d be remiss not to mention, even in passing, that Bloc Party is capable of greatness. Bits and pieces of Four are tolerable or even good: Coliseum’s bluesy sound and filtered vocals, the slight Silent Alarm throwback of frenetic guitars on Team A, the Death from Above aesthetic of We’re Not Good People. Ultimately, though, the album suffers some of the worst adjectives any musician can hear: boring, forgettable, and embarrassing.